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Wolf Whistle

Gifts for book lovers: Martha recommends one for lovers of libraries and another for students of Spanish. Grant suggests some enchanting novels for young readers. When it comes to books, though, you can’t always judge them by their original...

Phonaesthesia Word Connotations

Why do words that begin with sn—sneer, snarl, snot, snide, snake, snooty—all have negative connotations? Phonaesthesia, a phenomenon whereby we associate certain sounds with particular meanings, may hold the answer. Linguist and cognitive scientist...

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...

Word Births and Bird Words

Hi, ho! In this week’s episode, we discuss odd words, how children learn to talk, “in my wheelhouse,” “high as Cooter Brown,” and “good leather.” Greg Pliska metagrobolizes us with a quiz based on the 2011...

Nuclearly (minicast)

Is it acceptable to make a brand-new adverb simply by adding an -ly to an adjective? A scientist wants to know, and specifically a term she uses, nuclearly.