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Cocktail Party Effect

A lovely evening of classical music at San Diego’s new Rady Shell at Jacobs Park leads to a conversation with an audio engineer about the term cocktail party effect, referring to the brain’s ability to focus in on the sound of one...

Episode 1553

Play It by Ear

How does social context shape our perception of language? When hiking the Appalachian Trail, a young woman from Wyoming found that fellow hikers assumed she was from another country, not only because of how she spoke, but also how she looked...

To Lime or Go Liming in Trinidad

Jolene is originally from Trinidad and recalls that when she wanted to ask her friends to get together for some loosely organized socializing, she’dinvite them to go lime or liming. No one’s sure of the etymology, although the Dictionary...

Stranger: Shall I Play Mother?

One old sense of the word stranger means “a lone tea leaf floating in a cup of tea.” A longtime superstition holds that such a lone leaf means a stranger will soon show up at the door. In Britain, a host may offer to pour a cup of tea...

Fighting Artichokes

What’s in a mascot name? Maybe you’re a fan of the Banana Slugs, or you cheer for the Winged Beavers. Perhaps your loyalty lies with the Fighting Artichokes. There are some strange names for sports team out there. But what’s even...