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Episode 1513

Howling Fantods

Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills, or that AM radio stations only broadcast in the morning? • A moving new...

Episode 1621

Gleam in Your Eye

A remarkable new documentary explores the world of amateur and professional mermaiding and the language bubbling up within it. Some mermaiding enthusiasts greet each other with a friendly “Shello!” Plus, an adoptee wonders what to call...

Aks for Ask in Appalachia

Linda in Blountville, Tennessee, wonders why many old-timers in her area pronounce the word ask to sound like aks with the S and K switched, sounding like the word “axe.” The pronunciation “axe” for ask has nothing to do with...

Episode 1499

Truth and Beauty

Malamute, kayak, and parka are just some of the words that have found their way into English from the language of indigenous people in northern climes. • In the 1970s, some scientists argued that two quarks should be called truth and beauty. • The...

Episode 1610

Big Dog

If you’re ever near a sundial, step closer and look for a message. Many sundials bear haunting, poetic inscriptions about the brevity of life. Plus, language development in toddlers: why and how little ones pick up the exclamation Uh-oh! And a...

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