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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 1599

What in Tarnation

Language is always evolving, and that’s also true for American Sign Language. A century ago, the sign for “telephone” was one fist below your mouth and the other at your ear, as if you’re holding an old-fashioned candlestick...

Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt

Nick in Palm Springs, California, wonders about the phrase Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. Springing up the 1970s, the saying been there, done that is sometimes followed by any of several variants, including got the T-shirt; worn the T...

Episode 1577

Mystery Date

A librarian opens a book and finds a mysterious invitation scribbled on the back of a business card. Another discovers a child’s letter to the Tooth Fairy, tucked into a book decades ago. What stories are left untold by these forgotten...

Do You Call In Sick or Call Out Sick?

A Vermont listener says that if she has to be absent from work due to illness, she would call in sick. Her twenty-something daughters, however, use the phrase call out sick. Is this a generational difference, or a regional one, and is one more...