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Toot and Toodle in a Tube

Welcome to another newsletter from "A Way with Words"!

Where the heck have we been? Working on a brand-new season, that's where. It starts this coming weekend. That's right--brand-new episodes, chock full of languagey goodness, sweet linguistics, and honey-coated grammarific advice.

If you've been waiting for new content all summer, you should've been subscribing to the podcast or visiting the web site. We've been posting some special online-only minicasts and there are more to come.

Two recent minicasts:

Indo-European language -- Many of the world’s languages apparently derived from a prehistoric common ancestor known as Indo-European. But since no one ever wrote down a word of it, how do we know what it was like?


Family names for toilet-paper tube -- Does your family have a word for the cardboard tube left over from a roll of toilet paper? A caller says his family refers to them "oh-ah, oh-ahs." Turns out many families have their own terms for them, including "drit-drit," "dawda dawda," "hoo-hoo," "to-do," "taw-taw," and "der der."


Who can resist holding a cardboard tube up to the mouth to toot and toodle? (That's us: Toots and Toodle, the language lovers.)

Onward: What do you call the new wife of your ex-husband? Well, you guys definitely know! We asked this question on the air and we were flooded with responses. That's one silver-lining to divorce, we guess: fodder for radio shows.

Here's a partial list of the names suggested:

wife-in-law -- the most-common suggestion

spouse-in-law -- variant of above

step-wife -- the second-most common suggestion

next-wife -- also common


better third




neouxor -- from neo + uxor, Latin for "wife"




nouvelle or nouvelle femme








wasband's wife


x-ux -- the new wife is re-dux

Elsewhere on the Internet are these tidbits of interest (that's titbits to you cross-ponders; Australians probably call them something colorful and opaque):

Dave Wilton at WordOrigins.org has been working his way through the etymologies of the elements. Here are a few:




Finally, a thankful "F-U!" to Oxford University Press, which sent along a copy of the brand-effing-new third edition of "The F Word," a dictionary about that famous four-lettered friend that's so fun to say but sure to draw fines. Thanks for the freebie!


See you on the radio,

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett<

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