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Take a Licking and Get Your Licks in

Paul in Camden, Maine, has adopted a new pup, and the dog’s exuberant face-licking has Paul wondering about the many meanings of the word lick, which include getting his licks in and takes a licking, which refers to the act of forcefully...

The Bridge is Open but Closed

Chelsea says that after moving from the Midwest to Norfolk, Virginia, she was confused by traffic reports indicating that a local bridge was open. Turns out the bridge is a drawbridge, and by open, the announcers were saying that the bridge was...

Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo

How many buffaloes can you fit in a sentence? Eight? How about 40? The sentence Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo is a staple of introductory linguistics classes because it’s a great illustration of polysemy, in...

Polysemes and Syllepsis

In their song “The Old Apartment,” The Barenaked Ladies sang, “crooked landing / crooked landlord / narrow laneway filled with crooks.” “Crooked” there is an example of a polyseme, or one word that has multiple...

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