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How Do You Pronounce “Palindromist”?

The Palindromists documentary explores a mini-controversy: How do you pronounce the word palindromist? Some people put the stress on the first syllable, but other people and reference works, including the Oxford English Dictionary, stress the second...

Episode 1553

Play It by Ear

How does social context shape our perception of language? When hiking the Appalachian Trail, a young woman from Wyoming found that fellow hikers assumed she was from another country, not only because of how she spoke, but also how she looked...

Gee and Haw

The highly specialized vocabulary of people who work outdoors, communicating with sled dogs, a word from the sport of rock-climbing, church key, browse line, smeuse, nitnoy, mommick, zawn, zwer, boom dog, and I think my pig is whistling.

Pronouncing The Word “The”

A Palm Springs, California, listener was taught that when the word the is followed by a vowel, it should be pronounced with a long e, and otherwise with a schwa sound. However, there’s no grammatical basis for such a rule. This is part of a...

“Whistling Dixie” Origin

You ain’t just whistling Dixie, and that’s the truth! Whistling Dixie, which refers to a studied carelessness, comes from the song that originated in minstrel shows and from which the South takes its nickname. But if you say someone...

Pronouncing “Won”

How do you pronounce the word won? Does it rhyme with sun or Juan? Some people, depending on their regional dialect, may hypercorrect their vowels and pronounce certain words in an unusual way. This is part of a complete episode.