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Adult Spelling Bee

Grant and Martha recently served as expert spellers at the San Diego Council on Literacy’s annual adult spelling bee, but don’t let the age group or philanthropic mission fool you-spelling bees are always i-n-t-e-n-s-e. The word...

Who Decides What’s Good English?

Is there an English language authority like the Real Academia Española or the Academie Française? Dictionaries often have usage panels made up of expert linguists, but English is widely agreed to be a constantly shifting language. Even in France and...

Humongous vs. Gargantuan

Which word is larger, humongous or gargantuan? Which refers to something larger? Grant and Martha agree with usage expert Bryan Garner that the word gargantuan is the larger of the two. This is part of a complete episode.

You Want Vocal Fry With That?

Hellooooo, nurse! We have two recent brand-new episodes to share, plus some language news, along with a bit about what’s going on with us. First, on the show this past weekend we talked about eponyms, jo-jo potatoes, dog breed mashups, the...

A Roberta of Flax

We have collective nouns for animals, like “a gaggle of geese,” “a pride of lions,” and “an exaltation of larks.” So why not collective nouns for plants? How about a “greasing of palms,” or a...

Great Spellers

What do you call an expert speller? A “Words With Friends” enthusiast wants to know. Martha tells her that a great speller is called an orthographer or orthographist, from the Latin roots ortho- meaning “straight” or...

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