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Two Brand-New Episodes — Yum!

Hey there!

The latest brand-new episode of the show is up and ready. We hit a few high points about graffiti slang, relay a few more paraprosdokians, and share doomaflatchies.


Last week was also brand-new episode. Did you catch it? Spelling bee successes, an old advertising come-on, the oddity "come with," and college slang:


As always, the episode are there for free downloading or online listening. You can get the show automatically right after it's released by subscribing on iTunes:


Next Sunday, October 16, is Dictionary Day, at least to American lexicographers. It celebrates the birthday of Noah Webster, of whom we could speak volumes, but of which we will mainly say: Go team English!

Today, however, is the birthdate of Frederic Cassidy, the original editor in chief of the Dictionary of American Regional English, a reference work which we use and love and mentioned twice on this past weekend's show.

As we've noted before (can you tell we're excited by this?) DARE (as it is known) is prepping its fifth and final volume for release after more than 40 years of work.

Linguist and slang lexicographer Michael Adams has penned a tribute to and short history of it:


A particularly bright passage:

"A DARE entry might include any combination of quotations from regional literature, diaries, small-town newspapers, material from WELS, the various linguistic atlases (published and unpublished), other accounts of dialect in scholarly literature, substantial personal collections donated to the project by scholars at the ends of their careers (like the Gordon Wilson collection, from which DARE illustrated dew poison), and, of course, questionnaire responses, identified by informant, so that the curious reader can refer to the 'List of Informants' to discover his or her community, community type, year of birth, level of education, occupation, sex, and race."

Thanks to Steve at LanguageHat for pointing out the link:


Elsewhere, our reliable and reputable cohort at LanguageLog explore the duality of "luck out."

To a North American, "luck out" means to have something good happen, or to have something bad not happen, especially when it is counter to expectations.

However, in other parts of the English-speaking world, to "luck out" is the opposite: you run out of luck rather than into it.


Which reminds us of an email we got from Liz Cooksey in Savannah, Georgia, a few years ago. She passed along a New Yorker article about how people reach "eureka" moments. Where and how does inspiration come? How fully involved is the consciousness in lucking into solutions?

The part that particularly interests us is the difference in how we behave when we solve puzzles with analysis versus when we solve them with insight.

The full article, "The Eureka Hunt," by Jonah Lehrer, is here:


Liz also wondered why "luck out" and "luck in" can mean roughly the same thing.

Because English is a tricksy, terrible thing, Liz, whose rules are a fractal of Mobius strips devised by people who didn't know what kind of precedent they were setting.

Cheers and best wishes,

Martha and Grant

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