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Episode 1526


The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who’s on your guest list and...

Sailing Slang and Jargon

After hanging out with San Diego sailing enthusiasts, Martha picked up several bits of slang and jargon. Catenary describes the desirable curve of an anchor chain, from Latin catena, meaning “chain.” A chain that is not pulled up...

Buyed vs. Bought

Why is the past tense of buy not buyed but bought? Often the verbs most likely to have such irregular forms are the simplest, reflecting the residue of centuries-old grammatical features. This is part of a complete episode.

Spelling Bees

Though the Spanish language, among others, has its quirks and foreignisms, the English language really can’t be touched when it comes to complicated and irregular spelling. Thus, spelling bees are primarily an English-language phenomenon...

fourth generation war

fourth generation war  n.— «With Hezbollah’s entry into the war between Israel and Hamas, Fourth Generation war (the military’s term for guerrillas, insurgents or irregular warfare in general) has taken another developmental step forward...


 n.— «Of abnormal shape or irregular (esp. unusually large) size; spec. applied…to a file intermediate between the coarse and fine ‘cuts.’» —, 1677. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)