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Bug in Your Ear (episode #1537)

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...

The Big Cheese

Is it time to replace the expression “the mentally ill”? Some argue the term unfairly stigmatizes a broad range of people. Also, the winter sport of… skitching, which involves snowy roads, leather shoes — and car bumpers...

The Big Chiz

Calling a hotshot the big cheese comes from the word chiz, which in both Persian and Urdu means “thing.” This is part of a complete episode.

goonda tax

goonda tax n. money extorted as ‘protection’ or to permit passage on public thoroughfares, or paid as a simple bribe. Etymological Note: The Hindi and Urdu term goonda can be translated as rascal or ruffian and even as goon, but there is no evidence...

chamcha

chamcha n. a sycophant, toady, or hanger-on. Etymological Note: From the Hindi and Urdu word for ‘spoon.’ (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)

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