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How To Get Started Writing Fiction

Now that he’s reached mid-life, Jeff in San Diego, California, is eager to start writing fiction, but he worries that creative writing classes may be simply self-indulgent or otherwise unhelpful. He shouldn’t be. Across the nation, older...

Episode 1526

Abso-Bloomin-Lutely

The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who’s on your guest list and...

Sailing Slang and Jargon

After hanging out with San Diego sailing enthusiasts, Martha picked up several bits of slang and jargon. Catenary describes the desirable curve of an anchor chain, from Latin catena, meaning “chain.” A chain that is not pulled up...

Afghan Blanket Origins

Malia in San Diego is of Afghan descent, and wonders why crocheted blankets are referred to as afghans. There is a long, rich history of textile weaving in Afghanistan with repeated geometric designs, and the term afghan was probably borrowed to...

Chihoo! A Samoan Cry

Rachel from San Diego wonders whether the exuberant Hawaiian cry chihoo! is onomatopoetic — that is, if the sound of the word resembles what it actually denotes. The cry is not originally Hawaiian. It’s a version of the Samoan war cry known as...

The Source of the Pirate’s “Arrr!”

A chance encounter with University of California San Diego professor of history Mark Hanna, author of Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740, leads to a discussion of how the saying “arrr!” came to be associated with...