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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...

Variations in American Sign Language

If you need further proof that language is always changing, look no further than American Sign Language or ASL. A hundred years ago, the sign for telephone reflected the shape of an old-fashioned candlestick phone — one fist below your mouth and the...

Scroll the Window Down

A listener reports that when riding with him in a car, his young daughter asked him to scroll the window down, which struck him as a creative combination of old and new — the old-fashioned expression roll down a window, and the newer scrolling...

Dictionary Recommendations

Grant and Martha recommend dictionaries for college students, both online references (OneLook.com, The Oxford English Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster Dictionary) and the old-fashioned kind to keep at one’s elbow (Shorter Oxford English...

Wreck of the Hesperus

“You look like the wreck of the Hesperus!” It means you look “disheveled, ragged, dirty, hung over, or otherwise less than your best.” It may sound like an odd phrase, but it made perfect sense to generations of...

Newlywed Hazing Shivaree

One definition of a shivaree is “a compliment extended to every married couple made up of beating tin pans, blowing horns, ringing cowbells, playing horse fiddles, caterwauling, and in fine, the use of every disagreeable sound to make the...