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Mouthfeel of Words

Is there a term for the way words feel when they’re spoken that has nothing to do with their meaning? The word “suitcase” feels nice to say, unlike rural. “Cellar door” certainly has a different quality than...

Set the Soup Outside

The old Brooklyn Dodger Roy Campanella really knew how to set the soup outside! A baseball fan recalls this overheard phrase from a game in the 60s between the Cardinals and the Dodgers, when Campy smacked one over the fence. Grant speculates this...

Word Birth

The question of how children acquire language has long intrigued parents and scholars. MIT cognitive scientist Deb Roy recently found a novel way to study what he calls “word birth.” He wired his home with cameras and microphones, and...

Wheel of Yew

Greetings! In last weekend’s archive episode, we wondered who thinks up those crazy names for paint chips. We also discussed “spam” and “gringo,” dashes and semicolons, the term “first annual,” and wearing...

A Conversation with Roy Blount Jr. (minicast)

Humorist Roy Blount Jr. sits down with Grant for a conversation about the controversy over writers’ rights, the Amazon Kindle 2, Roy’s recent book, Alphabet Juice, “sonicky” words, and noodling for catfish. He also clears up...

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