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Cute Things Kids Say

Some of the things kids say are so cute, it’s a crime to correct them. Over time, they’ll fix their pronunciations of callipitter (caterpillar), so enjoy those mistakes while they last. If you have a favorite little-kid mispronunciation...

Go Hermantile

In the Navy and the Marines, if someone goes hermantile, they’re angry, shouting, and unpredictable. This slang expression is of uncertain origin. It goes back to World War I but has stayed almost exclusively within the military’s...

Who Decides What’s Good English?

Is there an English language authority like the Real Academia Española or the Academie Française? Dictionaries often have usage panels made up of expert linguists, but English is widely agreed to be a constantly shifting language. Even in France and...

Voilà vs. Walla

Voilà (not spelled wallah or vwala or walla) is a good example of a borrowed word. Though French for “there it is,” Americans often use it as a simple utterance, akin to presto or ta-da. This is part of a complete episode.

Parents Using Kids’ Slang

At what point is it inappropriate for parents to use the slang of their offspring? Can you call your son dude, or give your kids a beatdown in Scrabble? Living with children makes for a slang-filled home, so it becomes part of your regular speech...

Terms of Endearment

What pet names do you have for your loved ones? In The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten shares the name his Mother used to call him — bubala, a term of endearment grandmothers might use in addressing children. We have all kinds of substitutes for the...

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