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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...

The Vowel “W”

Did you learn the vowels as “a,” “e,” “i,” “o,” “u,” and sometimes “y” and “w”? A caller who was taught that in second grade was left wondering: When and where does...

Secrets, Shamans, and Sounding Gustav

Yep, it's another newsletter from A Way with Words! There's something kind of special about the language a family invents for its own use, so we talked about it on this past weekend's show. We also tried to narrow down the difference...

mundane

mundane  n.— «This is my best effort at a summary of Karyn Ashburn’s talk.…On those occasions when she showed up at a con to meet Elise, she saw lots of fans in groups talking. To her they seemed angry and rude. To Elise they seemed...