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Episode 1536

The Black Dog

Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse to the first page of those books that was supposed to keep thieves away — and some were as vicious as...

Y’all Spreading Beyond the South

Jesse from Louisville, Kentucky, wonders if the second-person plural pronoun y’all is becoming more popular throughout the United States. A 2000 article in the Journal of English Linguistics finds that y’all and you-all are indeed spreading beyond...

Is “Howdy” an Uncouth Greeting?

Years ago, Derek from Omaha, Nebraska, adopted the greeting howdy, but his wife says it sounds too uncultured. In a 2012 paper in the Journal of English Linguistics by Lauren Hall Lew and Nola Stephens describe howdy as a term that is enregistered...

Wet Brick

What the fox says may be a mystery, but we do know that dogs bark differently around the world. In China, for example, they say not bow-wow but wang wang.  Also, the story behind the British tradition of scrumping. It’s not a middle...

Kiss Like a Wet Brick

The Western Folklore Journal of 1976 gives us such romantic phrases as “kisses like a cold fish,” “kisses like your brother through a screen,” and “kisses like a wet brick.” This is part of a complete episode.