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Rare-Do-Wells Puzzle

Quiz Guy John Chaneski says his wife, the poet Jennifer Michael Hecht, has pointed out that there are some people who shouldn’t be classified as ne’er-do-wells, because every once in a while, they do manage to do something right...

Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English

The splendid new Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English (Bookshop|Amazon), edited by Michael Montgomery and Jennifer Heinmiller, is a greatly expanded version of the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English (Amazon), edited by Montgomery and Joseph...

Why is Q Followed by U?

Quinn from Excelsior, Minnesota, is five years old — well, five and three-quarters, as she points out. She wonders why the letter Q is so often followed by U. In Old English, the alphabet didn’t include the letter Q. The word quick, for...

Fotched a Heave and Catched a Fall

Michael in Morgantown, Kentucky, is pondering his grandfather’s phrase He fotched a heave and catched a fall meaning someone “made a quick bodily movement and fell.” Fotched is a dialectal past tense of fetch. This is part of a...

My Word is Born

Michael from Sherman Oaks, California, says that as a teacher in New Jersey in the 1980s, he heard students saying My word is born, meaning “You better believe me,” and later shortened to simply word. The research of linguist Geneva...