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Urban Speech in India

If you live in a city in India, you probably have at least some facility in at least two languages. As Salman Rushdie once observed: “If you listen to the urban speech patterns there you’ll find it’s quite characteristic that a...

Whistle Britches

Writers and where they do their best creative work. A new book on Geoffrey Chaucer describes the dark, cramped, smelly room where he wrote his early work. Which raises the question: What kind of space do you need to produce your best writing...

Salt-and-Pepper Cellar

The -cellar in saltcellar derives from an Old French word meaning “salt box,” and is etymologically related to the word salt itself. A caller from India says she grew up with the expression salt-and-pepper cellar, and it turns out...

Do the Needful

“Do the needful” is a phrase commonly heard from people in India working in tech support. Though it’s fallen out of fashion in British dialects, it’s still common in India to mean “do what you must.” This is part...