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Episode 1601

Funny Papers

There are word nerds, and then there’s the woman who set up a folding chair on sidewalks throughout the country, cheerfully dispensing tips about grammar. She recounts her adventures in a new book. And the story of the brilliant pioneer of...

Overarching Sentiments

What sort of language is worthy of being inscribed in stone? A frieze on the James A. Farley Building in New York City is inscribed with Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their...

Episode 1560

Snaggletooth

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...

Episode 1550

Queen Bee

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...