Home » Newsletter » Will The Rain Hurt The Rhubarb?

Will The Rain Hurt The Rhubarb?

Stand back! Farther back! It's another newsletter from "A Way with Words."

A brand-new episode hit the airwaves this weekend, in which we took a look at some of the coinages on Barack Obama's name, and at "eavesdropping," "bye week," the "parson's nose," and what to call your child's in-laws. Press play here:


Let's go straight to the news reader:

Patrick James has a question-and-answer column with the makers of "The Linguists," a documentary about two fellows who travel the world hunting down dying languages. The documentary will be broadcast February 26 on PBS.


Contributors to the Canadian blog "Torontoist" spent more than six months scouring Toronto to assemble a collection of more than sixty shops and businesses with the best punny names. Maybe your town can do better than "Hi Fi Fo Fum" for a music components store?


Craig Conley guest-posts at Neatorama about the process of compiling "Magic Words: A Dictionary." He writes, "Magic words aren't just for stage performers or superstitious folks. They're powerful language tools, like blueprints for constructing reality. With magic words, we define a sacred arena where miracles can come into play. [Magicians are] making something out of nothing, echoing that famous line from Genesis: 'Let there be light, and there was light.'"


Mark Peters looks at the language innovations of the new "Battlestar Galactica":


How many M's are there in the sound “hmmm”? How many R's are there in the sound “arrgh”?



Finally, Grant will be leading a class about the names of wines and cheeses this Friday, January 23, at Murray's Cheese on Bleecker Street in New York City. There's a fee, but it includes lots of cheese and wine samples. Skip dinner!


Best wishes,

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Further reading

Blue Dolphin (episode #1634)

How can you kick the verbal habit of saying you know and um so many times in a sentence? For one thing, get comfortable with pauses. There’s no need to fill every silence during a conversation. Also, a doctor who treats patients in Appalachia...

Language With a Certain Mouthfeel

Is there a term for words that simply feel good as you form them in your mouth and say them? Linguists sometimes speak of mouthfeel, an expression borrowed from the food world. They also talk about phonaesthetics, the study of the sensuous...