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Episode 1548

Yak Shaving

There was a time when William Shakespeare was just another little seven-year-old in school. Classes in his day were demanding — and all in Latin. A new book argues that this rigorous curriculum actually nurtured the creativity that later flourished...

What is a Strumpet?

Quincy works as a delivery driver in San Diego, Calfornia. His wife’s been teasing him that while she’s stuck at home, his job lets him go out having fun, gallivanting, and “running into the strumpets.” What, he wonders, is a...

Episode 1543

Goody Two-Shoes

She sells seashells by the seashore. Who is the she in this tongue twister? Some claim it’s the young Mary Anning, who went on to become a famous 19th-century British paleontologist. Dubious perhaps, but the story of her rise from seaside...

Mary Anning Sells Seashells

She sells seashells by the seashore. The shells she sells are seashells I’m sure, so if she sells seashells on the seashore, then I’m sure she sells seashore shells. Some claim that this tongue twister is about the early life of 19th...

Nose Open and Bonnaroo

Jennifer in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has been in recovery from substance abuse for 29 years now, and still recalls some of the slang she heard back in the days when she was using illicit drugs. Her ex-husband used to say Now you got my nose open...

Episode 1515

Colonial English

The anatomy of effective prose, and the poetry of anatomy. Ever wonder what it’d be like to audit a class taught by a famous writer? A graduate student’s essay offers a taste of a semester studying with author Annie Dillard. Also, what...