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Episode 1502

Mimeographs and Dittos

How colors got their names, and a strange way to write. The terms blue and orange arrived in English via French, so why didn’t we also adapt the French for black and white? • Not every example of writing goes in one direction across the page...

Episode 1495

Cool Your Soup

According to Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, it’s important to master the basics of writing, but there comes a time when you have to strike out on your own and teach yourself. Also: Spanish idioms involving food, a conversation about the...

Episode 1494

Put on the Dog

Why isn’t “you’re welcome” the default response to “thank you” for everyone? Plus lies that kids tell, Philadelphia lawyer, cowbelly, skutch, mind-bottling vs. mind-boggling, tsundoku, infanticipating, noisy piece...

Episode 1610

Big Dog

If you’re ever near a sundial, step closer and look for a message. Many sundials bear haunting, poetic inscriptions about the brevity of life. Plus, language development in toddlers: why and how little ones pick up the exclamation Uh-oh! And a...