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Oh My Lady Gaga

It’s another newsletter from “A Way with Words.” Woot! In last weekend’s episode: Is it wrong to type two spaces after a period? We arm-wrestle over that, and talk about the odd language in “True Grit.” Also...

Neruda Love Sonnet

Martha reads a love sonnet by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Here’s the text of the original Spanish, with an English translation by Mark Eisner. And here’s a lovely audio rendering of the poem in Spanish. This is part of a complete...


In a previous episode, we wondered how U-turn might translate in different languages. One listener explains that in Hebrew, drivers make a horseshoe or a hoof-turn. This is part of a complete episode.

Venezuelan Potato Idiom

“You really love peeled potatoes.” That’s a translation of a Venezuelan idiom describing someone who’s lazy. Grant and Martha share other idioms from South America. This is part of a complete episode.


A sign-language interpreter found herself translating the word doldrums. She wonders if it has to do the area of the ocean known by that name. This is part of a complete episode.

Anaheim, Azusa, and Cu-ca-monga!

All aboard! This week, a bit about the musical language of railroad conductors’ calls: “Anaheim, Azusa, and Cu-ca-monga!” Also, the origin of the military slang term cumshaw, tips for learning Latin, the influence of Spanish...