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Overarching Sentiments

What sort of language is worthy of being inscribed in stone? A frieze on the James A. Farley Building in New York City is inscribed with Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their...

Rebel with a Clause

In 2018, author Ellen Jovin started setting up her folding “Grammar Table” on the streets of New York City, and dispensing helpful advice about grammar and usage to anyone who asked. She enjoyed those interactions so much that...

Följa John

Say you’re on a long road trip. Do you have a term for another driver who happens to be traveling the same direction and sets the pace for your car mile after mile? In an earlier episode, a Rhode Island listener left us wondering why her Swedish...

Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt

Nick in Palm Springs, California, wonders about the phrase Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. Springing up the 1970s, the saying been there, done that is sometimes followed by any of several variants, including got the T-shirt; worn the T...

Do You Call In Sick or Call Out Sick?

A Vermont listener says that if she has to be absent from work due to illness, she would call in sick. Her twenty-something daughters, however, use the phrase call out sick. Is this a generational difference, or a regional one, and is one more...

Applause with Mucus and Salt

In a lovely essay on the shared experience of theater audiences, Wesley Morris, critic at large for The New York Times, memorably describes weeping in the dark with fellow audience members as offering “applause with mucus and salt.” This...