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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...

Episode 1539

Clever Clogs

Ribbon fall. Gallery forest. You won’t find terms like these in most dictionaries, but they and hundreds like them are discussed by famous writers in the book Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape. The book is an intriguing collection...

Thee, Thou, You, and Ye

Mark in Indianapolis, Indiana, wonders about the history of the second person singular and plural in English. At one time, thee and thou were singular, and you and ye were plural. By the early 17th century, thou and thee as familiar terms of address...

Baby Department

Why do department stores label their infants’ section “Baby” instead of “Babies’” à la “Men’s” or “Women’s”? For one, the Baby department includes more than just clothes;...

Butter My Biscuits

Well, look what the cat dragged in! It’s another newsletter from A Way with Words. Given how often we talk about food words, we should write a cookbook. For example, this past weekend’s show was a leftover — a rebroadcast, a rerun, a re...