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Unusual Word for Ordinary Things

A teacher of English as a second language asks our Facebook group to name some unusual words for ordinary things. The group’s suggestions include winklehawk, which means an L-shaped tear in cloth, and diastema, which means a gap between...

Through Tough Thorough Thought

A listener from Concord, North Carolina, sent along an example of why learning English as a second language can be so challenging: “Yes, English can be weird. It can be understood through tough, thorough thought though.” This is part of...

Urban Speech in India

If you live in a city in India, you probably have at least some facility in at least two languages. As Salman Rushdie once observed: “If you listen to the urban speech patterns there you’ll find it’s quite characteristic that a...

Second Language Idioms

If you master a second language by the age of ten, native speakers won’t recognize that it’s not your first. Even so, things like idioms or prepositions can often trip up even the most skilled second-language speakers, if their second...