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Eastern Seaboard, West Coast

Shadowdabbled. Moon-blanched. Augusttremulous. William Faulkner often used odd adjectives like these. But why? Grant and Martha discuss the poetic effects of compressed language. Also, African-American proverbs, classic children’s books, pore...

Purfling

A violin maker wonders about the origin of a practice in his trade known as purfling, where a black and white line is inlaid into a tiny channel along the edge of the instrument. Martha traces the word back to the Latin filum, meaning...

Faulknerian Adjectives

William Faulkner used adjectives like shadowdabbled, Augusttremulous, and others that can only be described as, well, Faulknerian. Grant and Martha trade theories about why the great writer chose them. The University of Virginia has an online audio...

Too Much Sugar for a Dime

Is the term “Oriental” offensive? Where do we get the phrase “not one iota”? Why do we tell someone to “take a gander”? And who coined the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

Man’s Best Friend Paraprosdokian

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” This kind of sudden, surprising turn in a sentence is called a paraprosdokian. Martha and Grant trade some examples. This is part of a...

Spendthrift Snollygosters

This week, it’s the language of politics. Martha and Grant discuss two handy terms describing politicians: far center and snollygoster. Also, a presidential word puzzle, false friends, spendthrifts, and a long list of 17th-century insults. So...