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Episode 1584

Sleepy Winks

It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s best-known novel. Today the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest asks contestants for fanciful first sentences that are similarly...

Episode 1574

Scooter-Pooting

Old. Elderly. Senior. Why are we so uncomfortable when we talk about reaching a certain point in life? An 82-year-old seeks a more positive term to describe how she feels about her age. And: a linguist helps solve a famous kidnapping case, using the...

Episode 1568

Lasagna Hog

Understanding the varieties of conversational styles can mean the difference between feeling you’re understood and being insulted. “High-involvement” speakers interrupt or talk along with someone else to signal their enthusiasm...

Episode 1565

Lead On, Macduff!

For rock climbers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, the word send has taken on a whole new meaning. You might cheer on a fellow snowboarder with Send it, bro! — and being sendy is a really great thing. Plus: a nostalgic trip to Willa...

Motor v. Engine

Twelve-year-old Gagnon from Newport, Oregon, wonders: What’s the difference between a motor and an engine? This is part of a complete episode.

A Capital Mistake

Jonah, a music teacher, in Baltimore, Maryland, shares a funny story about a student who misunderstood his question about the capital of his home state. That left Jonah wondering about the difference between the words capital and capitol. The former...