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Road Buddies and Follow Johns

Imagine you’re on a long road trip. Is there a word for that other driver who sets the pace for your car mile after mile? Road buddy, perhaps? A Rhode Island caller says her family calls that driver a Follow John. Social psychologist Stanley...

Episode 1537

Bug in Your Ear

Is there something inherent in English that makes it the linguistic equivalent of the Borg, dominating and consuming other languages in its path? No, not at all. The answer lies with politics and conquest rather than language itself. Plus: a new...

Stranger: Shall I Play Mother?

One old sense of the word stranger means “a lone tea leaf floating in a cup of tea.” A longtime superstition holds that such a lone leaf means a stranger will soon show up at the door. In Britain, a host may offer to pour a cup of tea...

Fighting Artichokes

What’s in a mascot name? Maybe you’re a fan of the Banana Slugs, or you cheer for the Winged Beavers. Perhaps your loyalty lies with the Fighting Artichokes. There are some strange names for sports team out there. But what’s even...

amortality

amortality  n.— «You may not have heard of amortality before—mainly because I’ve just coined the term. It’s about more than just the ripple effect of baby boomers” resisting the onset of age. Amortality is a stranger, stronger...