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Snaggletooth (episode #1560)

Many of us struggled with the Old English poem “Beowulf” in high school. But what if you could actually hear “Beowulf” in the English of today? There’s a new translation by Maria Dahvana Headley that uses contemporary...

Low-Key Slang

Katie, a biology professor in San Diego, California, reports that her students use low-key in ways she’s not used to hearing, as in I was low-key lost in class today, meaning “I was sort of lost in class today.” Linguists Pamela...

Queen Bee (episode #1550)

An artist asks strangers to write haiku about the pandemic and gets back poetic, poignant glimpses of life under lockdown. Plus, the new book Queenspotting features the colorful language of beekeeping! Bees tell each other about a good source of...

Lockdown Haikus

The Orange County Museum of Art commissioned Los Angeles artist Alan Nakagawa to do a project he called “Social Distancing, Haiku, and You,” in which he invited the public to write haikus about the experience of living through the COVID...

Off the Turnip Truck (episode #1532)

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell suggested answering with ahoy! but Thomas Edison was partial to hello! A fascinating new book about...

There Once Was a Gal

Ever try to write a well-known passage in limerick form? It’s harder than you think. How about this one: “There once was a lady who’s sure / All that glitters is golden and pure/ There’s a stairway that heads up to heaven...