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Slash Symbol

An election official in Arcata, California, wonders how the “/” symbol should be pronounced on ballots for the visually impaired. The symbol is becoming more and more popular as a kind of conjunction. In the U.K., they call it a stroke...

Fat Buttery Words

Teaching our children, and some advice for writers. Suppose your child is eager to tackle a difficult subject–ancient Greek, for example–but you know his reach exceeds his grasp? The challenge is to support the child’s curiosity...

250 Year Anniversary

We’ll be celebrating the United States’ 250-year anniversary in about 12 years, and if you’re looking for a neat, shiny term for the event, how about bicenquinquagenary, or perhaps sestercentennial? This is part of a complete...

Little Pitchers

Did you know reading poetry improves your prose? That includes hip-hop lyrics, too.  Also, how linguist can guess where you come from based on how you speak.  What do you call someone who picks the chocolate out of the trail mix...

Hissy Fits

Hissy fits, or frivolous tantrums often associated with girls, particularly in the Southern United States, probably derive from the word hysterical. An Alabama caller started thinking about the origin of this word after learning of the opening of a...

Springtime Twitterpation

Springtime is the right time to feel twitterpated—you know, you’re smitten beyond a crush. Speaking of relationships, are dog owners really owners, or should they call themselves something else, like guardian or human? And if you’re up...