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Episode 1560

Snaggletooth

Many of us struggled with the Old English poem “Beowulf” in high school. But what if you could actually hear “Beowulf” in the English of today? There’s a new translation by Maria Dahvana Headley that uses contemporary...

Episode 1545

Baby’s Breath

Have you ever googled your own name and found someone else who goes by the very same moniker? There’s a word for that: googleganger. Plus, the language of hobbyists and enthusiasts: If you’re a beekeeper, perhaps you call yourself a...

JoJo Potato Wedges

When Melissa was growing up in Tacoma, Washington, she’d walk to the corner store, where she’d pick up a corn dog and a bag of jo jos, a term for soft potato wedges with the skin left on. Researcher Barry Popik has dug up a story that...

Episode 1515

Colonial English

The anatomy of effective prose, and the poetry of anatomy. Ever wonder what it’d be like to audit a class taught by a famous writer? A graduate student’s essay offers a taste of a semester studying with author Annie Dillard. Also, what...

Episode 1504

Up Your Alley

Book recommendations, including a collection of short stories inspired by dictionaries, and a techno-thriller for teens. Or, how about novels with an upbeat message? Publishers call this genre up lit. Plus, a clergyman ponders an arresting phrase in...

Down Your Alley, Up Your Street

Shawn, who lives in Washington State, is used to hearing the phrase right up your alley to describe something that’s particularly fitting for someone. Then she heard a British vlogger use the phrase right up your street in the same way. Since...