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Interesting Foreign Expressions

The French expression peigner la girafe means to do a useless, tedious, or annoying job, but literally translates as “to comb the giraffe.” That’s one of the many gems in Mark Abley’s new book Watch Your Tongue: What Our...

Pig Latin

Grant and Martha discuss the L-word — or two L-words, actually: liberal and libertarian. They reflect different political philosophies, so why do they look so similar? Also, is the term expat racist? A journalist argues that the word expat carries a...

Pedal in Sauerkraut

In a futile situation, English speakers might say that we’re spinning our wheels. The French have a phrase for the same situation that translates as “pedal in sauerkraut.” The Illustrated Book of Sayings collects similarly colorful...

Pole-Splitting Superstition

It’s a common superstition: do not split a pole. That is, if two people are walking down the street, they shouldn’t each walk around a different side of a lamppost, telephone pole, or mailbox. But if they do, there’s a remedy: just...

Virginia Folk Sayings

An old book of Virginia folk sayings contains such gems as “It’s as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth,” and “He can’t spell A-B-L-E.” This is part of a complete episode.