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Episode 1599

What in Tarnation

Language is always evolving, and that’s also true for American Sign Language. A century ago, the sign for “telephone” was one fist below your mouth and the other at your ear, as if you’re holding an old-fashioned candlestick...

Tarnation, Gumption, and Brogans

Lanessa in San Antonio, Texas, remembers once when her Tennessee-born grandmother saw her grandfather coming home from work and tromping into her pristine kitchen: “What in the tarnation? You don’t have any gumption! Don’t come...

Episode 1594

Familiar Strangers

If you take up texting and social media late in life, there’s a lot to learn! A twenty-something wants advice getting her dad up to speed on memes, Instagram, and animated images. Plus, when you’re on a long road trip, what do you call...

Quare, as in Peculiar

Theresa in Lyman, South Carolina, says her mother has long used the word quare to describe someone who is “odd” or “set in their ways” or otherwise “peculiar,” as in They’re the quarest people I’ve...

Episode 1592

You Talk Like a Sausage  

Do you refer to your dog or cat as “somebody”? As in: When you love somebody that much, you don’t mind if they slobber. In other words, is your pet a somebody or a something? Also, for centuries, there was little consistency in the...

Put A Little Irish in Your English

The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary recently added several Irish English terms. One of them is segotia, which means “friend.” There’s an entry for this word, also spelled segocia, in Grant’s own book, The Official...