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Scrabblepoor

Scrabblepoor means “extremely poor,” conjuring the image of farmers having to scrape together a living by literally scratching at the dirt. The word hardscrabble is more commonly used to describe such grinding poverty. This is part of a...

Light Dawns on Marblehead

A Massachusetts native living in Washington, D.C. says her professor and classmates had no idea what she meant by a “light dawns on Marblehead” moment. It’s a reference to the town of Marblehead in her home state, on an outcropping...

Precious Little Dying Language

Imagine that you’re the last living speaker of a dying language.  What memories do the words of your childhood evoke? What do you miss talking about? Those are questions raised by Precious Little, a play by Madeleine George. Martha reads...

A Word is Not a Crystal

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote, in a Supreme Court opinion no less, that “a word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time...