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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...

Tarnation, Gumption, and Brogans

Lanessa in San Antonio, Texas, remembers once when her Tennessee-born grandmother saw her grandfather coming home from work and tromping into her pristine kitchen: “What in the tarnation? You don’t have any gumption! Don’t come...

Excuse the Pig, the Hog’s Out Walking

Eileen from Chesapeake, Virginia, recalls her mother’s response whenever someone in their family burped: Excuse the pigs, the hogs went out for a walk. It’s a mild reprimand (or apology, if the speaker is the one who burped), and there...

Episode 1552

Moon Palace

What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry — some of which is collected in the anthology England: Poems from a School. Also, new language among...

More Bookstore Names

Another evocative indie bookstore name: Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. And how can you resist walking into an establishment with a sign outside that says “Book People”? There are at least two stores with that name in the...

Episode 1551

Cherry Bombs

An ornithologist says there’s a growing movement to change the name of a pink-footed bird currently called the flesh-footed shearwater. The movement reflects a growing understanding that using flesh-colored for “pink” fails to...