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Episode 1576

Sour Pickle

You know that Yogi Berra quote about how Nobody ever comes here; it’s too crowded? Actually, the first person to use this was actress Suzanne Ridgeway, who appeared in several movies with The Three Stooges. A new book shows that many well...

Episode 1560

Snaggletooth

Many of us struggled with the Old English poem “Beowulf” in high school. But what if you could actually hear “Beowulf” in the English of today? There’s a new translation by Maria Dahvana Headley that uses contemporary...

Peanut Leg

Mara, a student from the Democratic Republic of the Congo now studying at the University of North Alabama, thought Google Translate rendered the French for “peanut butter” as peanut leg. Instead of using it to translate the French word...

More Impossible Events

Two examples of adynaton, the rhetorical term for playful exaggeration suggesting that something will never happen, involve animals’ tails. One German expression translates as “It’ll happen when the hounds start barking with their...

Coronafussgruss

The German neologism Coronafussgruss literally translates as “Corona foot greeting,” a term for the socially distanced alternative to handshakes. This is part of a complete episode.

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...