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Hope Me, Bobby-John, You’re My Only Help

Ronald in Columbia, South Carolina, hears some people pronounce the word help as if they’re saying hope. There’s a British dialectal version of the past tense of the verb help that is spelled holp or holpen or hope, which have hung on in...

Episode 1606

Stub Your Toe

Advice about college essays from the winner of a top prize for children’s literature: Kelly Barnhill encourages teens to write about experiences that are uniquely their own, from a point of view that is theirs and no one else’s. Plus...

Episode 1599

What in Tarnation

Language is always evolving, and that’s also true for American Sign Language. A century ago, the sign for “telephone” was one fist below your mouth and the other at your ear, as if you’re holding an old-fashioned candlestick...

A Vowel Perforation Called the Diaeresis

Sidney in Boston, Massachusetts, is curious about the diaeresis, that pair of dots that occasionally appear over a vowel in words such as naïve and coöperate. In ancient Greek diairesis, meaning “division,” applied to those dots in...

Long Eeeeeeeease Brain Tease

Quiz Guy John Chaneski has crafted this puzzle with eeeeeeeease. In fact, all the answers are combinations of words that include only one vowel sound — a long E. For example, suppose the clue is It’s what some people say the moon is made of...

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