Rabbit, Rabbit!

In our latest archive edition, we dispense writing advice, discuss funny Spanish idioms, survey the wide array of names for grandparents, and talk about “fixin’ to,” “I’m all set,” and the ditty “Toidy poiple boidies, sittin’ on a coibstone”:


Looking for the essay on the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers” Martha mentioned in that show? It’s here:


Last week marked the release of the new 12th edition of the Chambers Dictionary. Lots of coverage in the UK, including this Henry Hitchings essay.


The Virtual Linguist blog also has a helpful review.


An unusual addition to this edition of the Chambers Dictionary is “The Word Lover’s Miscellany” of lexical odds and ends. It features lists of “words for intriguing things,” “wonderful collective nouns,” “insults,” and other trivia.

This dictionary also includes a “Wordgame Companion” lists of “shorter words,” words with “J,” “Q,” “X,” and “Z” and more lists of interest to puzzle fans.

You can get a sample of the Miscellany in PDF form at the Chambers site.


We’re betting you love librarians as much as we do. You have until Sept 12 to nominate your favorite librarian for a $5000 cash award.

The awards are a joint effort by the American Library Association, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and The New York Times.


Remember when we told you last week about the fascinating work on pronouns by Dr. James Pennebaker, author of “The Secret Life of Pronouns”? His site:


Well, writing this week in The New York Times, Ben Zimmer notes that Pennebaker has also done linguistic analysis on pronouns in Beatles songs.

As the Fab Four aged, Pennebaker says, their lyrics became more complex. They used bigger words, as well as more prepositions, articles, and conjunctions.

Not only that, the analysis revealed a big drop in their use of first-person singular pronouns–from 14 percent in the group’s early years to 7 percent much later.

More linguistic analysis of Beatles lyrics here:


BEHIND THE SCENES: Ever wonder what to call that fatty bump at the tail end of the Thanksgiving turkey? Or why we call long, flat pasta “linguini”?

Reader’s Digest magazine asked Martha to talk about those and other foods named for parts of the body.


Not sure why we said “Rabbit, Rabbit”? The answer’s here:


Hope you and yours have a safe and happy Labor Day Weekend,

Martha and Grant

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