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Working Out of the Office

What do you call it when you work for a corporation but aren’t based in the same place as its headquarters. Writer Michael Erard believes that the term working remotely doesn’t really characterize it, and instead has suggested working in...

Kissed Her on the Stairs

Do Americans use the same sign language as the British? And what do Japanese people use instead of umm? Plus, why do we vote at polling places? What goes into file 13? All this, a word quiz, commode vs. toilet, saditty and bougie, and cute stuff...

Discourse Particles

So, um, where do those, er, filler words come from? Discourse particles, as they’re also known, are used to fill those gaps when we’re thinking of what to say but don’t want to lose our turn in a conversation. English isn’t...

Finding Your Writing Inspiration

Being a writer and making a living as a writer are often two different things. Maybe you’re writing poetry at night but by day you’re writing technical manuals or web copy. Journalist Michael Erard, whose day job is writing for think...

You Sound Old

Ever drop a reference that just makes you sound, well, of a certain age? Grant and Martha discuss language that’s lost on other generations. Why is the entree the main course? Shouldn’t it come first? And why is the letter k silent in...

Hyperpolyglots

There’s a story going around about a 19th Century priest named Giuseppe Mezzofanti who claimed to speak forty to fifty languages. Hyperpolyglots, or those who speak six or more languages fluently, offer some key insights into learnings...