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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...

Should Cursive Be Taught in Schools?

Should cursive handwriting be taught in schools? There are compelling arguments on both sides. A handwritten letter or note may carry additional emotional power. Also, to have a yen for something means to yearn for it. It comes from a Chinese word...

Elegant Variation

Did you miss our recent brand-new episode in which we talked about the game rock-paper-scissors, Band-Aids vs. plasters, Yiddish proverbs, jonesing, and more? Listen to it on our website or download the MP3. We aired a rebroadcast last weekend...

Prefix “Hella”

Whether it’s bytes of data or intergalactic distances, humans are accumulating ever more massive amounts of data. But how do we use language to describe such mind-bogglingly huge numbers? There’s mega, as in mega-millions, and giga, as...

Cumshaw Artists

A Seattle-area veteran remembers that in Vietnam he and others like him were known as cumshaw artists. They were the guys who scared up and “permanently borrowed” whatever their unit needed— gasoline, vehicle parts, or whiskey for a...