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Dreaming in a Second Language

A woman who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States wonders: If you’re studying a second language and start dreaming in it, does that mean you’ve reached the point of fluency? English has adopted several words from her...

Kiss the Cow (episode #1567)

An anadrome is a word that forms a whole new word when you spell it backwards. For example, the word “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.” Some people’s first names are anadromes. There’s the girl named Noel...

No Cap, No Lie (episode #1566)

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...

Dinna Fash

Catherine in Battle Creek, Michigan, saw a bumper sticker with the Scots phrase Dinna fash, meaning “Don’t worry.” Dinna in this phrase means “don’t” and fash incomes from a French verb fâcher, meaning “to...

Mudlarking (episode #1561)

Twice a day the River Thames recedes, revealing a muddy shoreline. Hobbyists known as mudlarks stroll the surface searching for objects that have found their way into the river over the centuries, everything from ancient Roman jewelry to modern...

Linguistic Hedges and Conversational Softeners

Paul in Dryden, New York, says when he lived in Tennessee, he knew that when someone began a sentence with Bless his heart, that phrase would usually be followed by the word but, plus a criticism of that person. Now that he’s living in New...

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