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Why is Q Followed by U?

Quinn from Excelsior, Minnesota, is five years old — well, five and three-quarters, as she points out. She wonders why the letter Q is so often followed by U. In Old English, the alphabet didn’t include the letter Q. The word quick, for...

A Delicious Pangram

We talked about pangrams in an earlier episode, which prompted a delicious one from Laura in Colt’s Neck, New Jersey: I quickly mixed up a dozen jelly donuts for the big variety show.

This is part of a complete episode.

Pandemic Pangram

In response to our conversation about pangrams, those sentences that use every letter of the alphabet at least once, Sarah McCall sent us this advice: Just mask up and be extra careful that you don’t quit always sanitizing everything. This is...

Showing Sarcasm with Punctuation

When writing his doctoral dissertation, John in Bardstown, Kentucky, used an upside-down question mark after a comment to indicate he was being sarcastic. Is there a punctuation mark that serves this function? Over the centuries, several have been...

Episode 1525

Niblings and Nieflings

How do actors bring Shakespeare’s lines to life so that modern audiences immediately understand the text? One way is to emphasize the names of people and places at certain points. That technique is called billboarding. And: Anyone for an...

Pangram Contest

Engineer and language enthusiast Anu Garg runs a popular website, Wordsmith.org, which includes the A.Word.A.Day email, along with an anagram server, and other offerings for fellow word lovers. To celebrate the site’s 25th anniversary, Garg...

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