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Episode 1537

Bug in Your Ear

Is there something inherent in English that makes it the linguistic equivalent of the Borg, dominating and consuming other languages in its path? No, not at all. The answer lies with politics and conquest rather than language itself. Plus: a new...

Stentorian Origin

The adjective stentorian, meaning “extremely loud,” comes from the name of brazen-voiced Stentor, a Greek herald in The Iliad, whose voice was said to be as powerful as that of 50 men. The noun and verb mentor come from The Odyssey. In...

Episode 1535

Beside Myself

The new Downton Abbey movie is a luscious treat for fans of the public-television period piece, but how accurate is the script when it comes to the vocabulary of the early 20th century? It may be jarring to hear the word swag, but it was already at...