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Is “Howdy” an Uncouth Greeting?

Years ago, Derek from Omaha, Nebraska, adopted the greeting howdy, but his wife says it sounds too uncultured. In a 2012 paper in the Journal of English Linguistics by Lauren Hall Lew and Nola Stephens describe howdy as a term that is enregistered...

Lick and Run in Place Names

Orion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in rural West Virginia on something called Lick Run Road, not far from Mud Lick Road, Turkey Lick Road, and Sanders Run Road. Why do the words lick and run appear in these types of place names? James Hall...

Flee Fly Flo

Wrapping up 2016 with words from the past year and some newsy limericks. Bigly and Brexit were on lots of lips this year, as well as an increasingly popular Danish word that means “cozy.” Also, Quiz Guy John Chaneski sums up the year in...

Being Have

A caller who grew up in rural Pennsylvania remembers being asked as a child, “Are you being have?” instead of “Are you behaving?” Being have, with a long a sound, results from what linguists call reanalysis. It occurs when...

Vowel Mergers

A Dallas, Texas, caller says his girlfriend from a rural part of his state has an unusual way of pronouncing certain words. Email sounds like EE-mill, toenail like TOW-nell, and tell-tale like TELL-tell. These sounds are the result of a well-known...

Etymology of Hack

Ever heard a school bus called a school hack? Grant and Martha explain the etymology of hack, beginning with hackney horses in England, then referring to the drivers of the horse-drawn carriages, then the carriages themselves, and finally the...