Happy holidays to everyone! Your gift is another episode of A Way with Words. It's one-size-fits-all.

This week we chewed over whether "cotton-picking" is racist, unintentionally funny headlines, a holiday-song quiz from John Chaneski, whether "enormity" can simply mean "enormous," how a person can be "such a pill," and the interesting word "pandiculation." It’s good stuff, Maynard!


If you're in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area, we're presuming you're a listener to KERA 90.1 FM. Well, good news! A Way with Words will be broadcast over the air there starting Friday, January 2, at 1 p.m. Get the word out: henceforth, that's the new citywide time for lunchbreaks. Chew your lunch as we chew the fat.

Grant's 2008 fifth annual buzzwords of the year list was revealed in the New York Times on Sunday. Being devout listeners, no doubt some of them are already familiar you to from the word-of-the-year minicasts we've been posting. But for the full meal, dive in:


You can also join the readers of the New York Times in commenting on the buzzwords and getting answers from Grant (much like our own forums, eh?). A few more AWWW listeners there would bring the level of discourse up quite a bit (snark!).


In the news:

David Wolman, author of "Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling," asks in the Dallas Morning News if a nation's president really has any effect on how its citizens speak. Do a president's linguistic gaffes matter?


Why do some grammar mavens erroneously insist that "not" should not appear at the end of a sentence? Why not?


William Safire's gift recommendations for language-lovers:


Happy Chanukah and Christmas to those that observe and a Merry Bailout to all!

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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