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Word Encounters of the First Kind

Hello from Indianapolis, where we've just spent a great weekend with the staff and listeners of WFYI 90.1.

You can listen to this week's show here:


We talked about words we read but didn't know, like "spanghew" and "mofussil." We also talked about "sketchy," "down the pipe" vs. "down the pike", "immersed" vs. "submerged," and "spelunker."

On Saturday, we took a two-hour slot during the pledge drive on WFYI and turned it into a gabfest about language. We'd like to thank all of you who pledged and everyone who wrote and called with questions for us. It's our understanding that you knocked the pledge numbers out of the ballpark (and the questions, of course, were great--what the origin of "lapis lazuli," for example).


This is pledge season. We'd like to nudge you to pledge your local public radio station if you haven't already. You get that a lot, right? People bugging you to become a member?

We just want to say that after pledging, your mood changes. The exhortations to call sound sweeter: they sound like your people working for you and for something you love. They are no longer strangers rattling a coin cup in your ear. It's kind of like how your noisy kids don't bother you nearly as much as someone else's noisy kids do. Give it a shot: drop a few dollars in the public radio collection basket and see if you don't feel great.

We also had tremendous fun at the Indy Reads benefit on Saturday night. Adult literacy can be cured, but it takes resources, manpower, and public support. Travis DiNicola and the folks at Indy Reads are on the side of what is right and good with the world. We were glad to be a part of it. Strange how we find our type of word geeks and word champs everywhere we go.

We'd like to nudge you a second time: please support literacy programs in your hometown. Here's more about the great work they do:


On Sunday, Martha talked about her book "A Garden of Words" at the beautiful new Central Library in Indianapolis. It's an amazing place. They've blended the old-world marble-and-columns look with the brilliant glass and steel of modern industry and come up with a soaring indoor space that is a perfect example of where libraries are headed. They're not places filled with shushing schoolmarms. They're community centers. They're the town commons, the public green, the coffee shop. We mean that literally. Not only is there a coffee shop in the library, but you are free to carry food and drink throughout the building.

We only saw a fraction of what there was to see, but the thing that convinced us that the library was a special place were the classes in robotics. AT&T and some other sponsors have put together a hands-on program for parents and children that teaches them how robots are made and programmed. Super! We loved it. See the library here:


We also loved the fans who came out and packed the room to hear Martha. Grant showed up as a special guest so we also ran way over time with questions and stories from the crowd. Can't seem to get the man to stop talking…. :-) There were young children, retirees, middle-aged folks who love to garden, a couple of recent college grads, everybody. A great crowd: smart, fun, and our people.

Thanks, Indianapolis, for a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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