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Episode 1517

Hair on Your Tongue

If you speak both German and Spanish, you may find yourself reaching for a German word instead of a Spanish one, and vice versa. This puzzling experience is so common among polyglots that linguists have a name for it. • The best writers create...

Episode 1510

Cootie Shot

Perfect sentences and slang that tickles your mind! A new book of writing advice says a good sentence “imposes a logic on the world’s weirdness” and pares away options for meaning, word by word. • Your musician friend may refer to...

Episode 1505

Coinkydink

Sometimes it’s a challenge to give a book a chance: How many pages should you read before deciding it’s not worth your time? There’s a new formula to help with that decision — and it’s all based on your age. • Have you ever...

Episode 1498

Dessert Stomach

Funny cat videos and cute online photos inspire equally adorable slang terms we use to talk about them. • Also, when a salamander is not a salamander, the story of an Italian term for a dish towel used halfway across the world, Bozo buttons...

Episode 1495

Cool Your Soup

According to Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, it’s important to master the basics of writing, but there comes a time when you have to strike out on your own and teach yourself. Also: Spanish idioms involving food, a conversation about the...

Episode 1611

By a Landslide

How do you transform ancient Chinese script for use in the modern age? English uses a keyboard with just 26 letters, but the first Chinese typewriter looked like a small table under a huge disk with more than 4,000 characters. A new book chronicles...