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Episode 1599

What in Tarnation

Language is always evolving, and that’s also true for American Sign Language. A century ago, the sign for “telephone” was one fist below your mouth and the other at your ear, as if you’re holding an old-fashioned candlestick...

Well, Glorgy Be!

If you’re tired of saying It’s hot outside, you always say It’s glorgy, pronounced with hard g sounds. This Scottish word may derive from an old word meaning “soft mud.” You could also say the weather is pothery, an...

Episode 1597

I Don’t Have the Spoons

Whether it’s a Rubik’s cube or a round of Wordle, why do so many of us find puzzles irresistible? A new book celebrates the allure and psychological benefits of brain teasers. Plus, powerful language for talking about the chronic...

Episode 1568

Lasagna Hog

Understanding the varieties of conversational styles can mean the difference between feeling you’re understood and being insulted. “High-involvement” speakers interrupt or talk along with someone else to signal their enthusiasm...

Episode 1566

No Cap, No Lie

We take our voices for granted, but it’s truly miraculous that we communicate complex thoughts simply by moving our mouths while exhaling. A fascinating new book reveals the science, history, and linguistics involved in human speech. And...