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Episode 1537

Bug in Your Ear

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...

Stentorian Origin

The adjective stentorian, meaning “extremely loud,” comes from the name of brazen-voiced Stentor, a Greek herald in The Iliad, whose voice was said to be as powerful as that of 50 men. The noun and verb mentor come from The Odyssey. In...

We have the results!

Help support A Way with Words broadcasts and podcasts by making a donation now. Dear friends, Last week we sent out a simple survey to tens of thousands of A Way with Words listeners and fans. Our goal: to find out your consensus on the state of the...

Keeping Your Voice Box in Working Order

Kurt Vonnegut gave us this timeless quote in his novel Cat’s Cradle: “People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order, so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really...

Episode 1415

Noon Balloon to Rangoon

Is there a word you keep having to look up in the dictionary, no matter how many times you’ve looked it up before? Maybe it’s time for a mnemonic device. And: a listener shares a letter from Kurt Vonnegut himself, with some reassuring...