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Pronouncing Forte

A listener in Billings, Montana, says his brother is an English teacher who corrects his pronunciation of forte, meaning “strong point.” Pedants will insist that it should be pronounced FORT, but that reflects an assumption about its...

I Ride An Old Paint

An Indiana woman is puzzled about a phrase in the old western song, “I Ride An Old Paint”: “I’m goin’ to Montana to throw the houlihan.” What’s a houlihan? You’ll find one version of the lyrics here...

Up or Down Vote

During the health care debate in Congress, there was lots of talk about an “up-or-down vote.” A Montana listener finds this expression annoying. What’s wrong with plain old “vote”? This is part of a complete episode.

downwinder

downwinder  n.— «Nuclear testing in Nevada during the 1950s and 1960s released radiation into the atmosphere that settled in states far away from the original test site. Researchers determined that certain elements of this fallout, such as...

bike leg

bike leg  n.— «Casati, like many other bike riding University of Montana students and faculty members, has gotten into the habit of rolling up a pant leg—or two—in order to keep it from catching in the bike chain. […] This fashion...