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Episode 1603

If Grandma Had Wheels

While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and volunteer researchers. A new collection online lets you eavesdrop on discussions about which words should be...

Episode 1577

Mystery Date

A librarian opens a book and finds a mysterious invitation scribbled on the back of a business card. Another discovers a child’s letter to the Tooth Fairy, tucked into a book decades ago. What stories are left untold by these forgotten...

Boo-Boo Boo-Hoo

Seven-year-old Everett from Tallahassee, Florida, wants to know why we refer to a scrape or other minor injury as a boo-boo. Such reduplication of words and syllables is common in baby talk used to soothe a child. Also, boo-boo sounds a little like...

Contrastive Focus Reduplication Redux

When someone’s going for a swim swim, it means they’re doing it for real, laps and all, and not just frolicking. If they’re going to a party, that’s probably going to be less party-like than a party party. These are examples...

Crash Blossoms: When Words Collide

This week, it’s headlines that make you do a doubletake, like “Child’s Stool Great for Use in Garden.” Martha and Grant discuss a few of these bloopers, also known as crash blossoms. Also, if you unthaw something, are you...