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Vegan Origin

The term vegan was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, the founder of the U.K. Vegan Society, who insisted that the original pronunciation was VEE-gin. However, some dictionaries now allow for other pronunciations, such as VAY-gin or even VEDJ-in. This...

Half a Hole

Is there such thing as a half a hole? Most holes are whole holes, but even half holes are whole holes, if you think about it. In any case, it’s a fun conundrum, sort of like asking someone if they’re asleep. Children’s book author...

Better American Speech Week

On the occasion of National Grammar Day, University of Illinois linguist Dennis Barron has pointed out some arresting posters from a wartime version from the early 20th century. They’re from a 1918 Chicago Women’s Club initiative called...

Can I Spell You

Mary, from Royal Oaks, Michigan, says she once confused a friend by offering to relieve her of snow shoveling duties with the question, “Can I spell you?” This usage of spell, which refers to substituting for a period of time, has been...

Going to Texas Game

What do you call that children’s game where you hold hands and spin around until you’re too dizzy to stand? Sally Jarvis, who grew up in Eastern Arkansas, says she and her childhood playmates called it Going To Texas. This is part of a...

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