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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...

Showing Sarcasm with Punctuation

When writing his doctoral dissertation, John in Bardstown, Kentucky, used an upside-down question mark after a comment to indicate he was being sarcastic. Is there a punctuation mark that serves this function? Over the centuries, several have been...

The Aforementioned “Said”

Katrina in Williamsburg, Virginia, asks if it’s pretentious to use the word said to describe something previously referred to. Using said to mean the aforesaid or the aforementioned is far more common in legal documents, but there’s...

Hideous

A listener in Norwich, Connecticut, is going through a trove of love letters her parents sent each other during World War II. In one of them, her father repeatedly used the word hideous in an ironic way to mean “wonderful.” Is that part...

Computer Mice

The most common plural form of mouse—as in, a computer mouse—is mice. But since the mouse was introduced in the 1960’s, tech insiders have applied their own sense of humor and irony to the usage of mice. This is part of a complete episode.