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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...

Episode 1450

Sweet Dreams

In deafening workplaces, like sawmills and factories, workers develop their own elaborate sign language to discuss everything from how their weekend went to when the boss is on his way. Plus, English speakers borrowed the words lieutenant and...

Ask vs. Question

Is it okay to use the word ask as a noun, as in “What’s our ask going to be?” Or should we substitute the word question or request? Actually, the noun ask has handy applications in the world of business and fundraising, where it...

Hamburger Menus and Smugshrug

Some new slang is making the rounds. Hamburger menus are those little stacks of short horizontal lines in the top left corner of websites that function as menus. Webrooming is the act of scoping out goods online only to buy them the store–the...

Placeholder “It”

A Quebec listener asks: In the phrases it’s a girl, or it’s raining, what exactly is the it here? It’s called the weather it or the dummy it, and it serves a placeholder inserted to make the sentence function grammatically. This is...