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Episode 1583

Made from Scratch

Enthusiastic book recommendations! Martha’s savoring the biography of Alexander von Humboldt, the 19th-century explorer, polymath, and naturalist who revolutionized our understanding of nature and predicted the effects of human activity on...

Might Could, Might Should

Modals are helping verbs that affect a verb’s grammatical mood and express possibility, capability, likelihood, permission, or obligation. The use in the Southern United States of multiple modals, such as might could and might should reflect...

That Smarts!

A listener in Abilene, Texas, wonders about the expression that smarts! The verb to smart, meaning to sting or cause sharp pain, goes back more than a thousand years. The adjective smart, meaning intelligent, evolved from that sense of something...

Non-Word Utterances Also Have Meaning

A Pasadena, California, man says some of his relatives make a noise that sounds like unh-Unh, and it’s clear to everyone in the family that it means “Well, what did you expect?” A lexical utterance like that does have meaning, even...

Reordering Definitions Word Game

Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s puzzle takes the definition of a word, and then alphabetizes all the words in the definition. For example, the definition of one familiar noun consists of the following words, but not in alphabetical order: “and...

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