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Word Up!

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What would you serve a plumber who comes over for dinner? How about … leeks? The hosts play a word game called “What Would You Serve?” Also, can you correct someone’s grammar without ruining a new relationship? And is there an easy way to remember the difference between who and whom? This episode first aired January 15, 2011.

Leeks and Carats

 What would you serve a plumber for dinner? How about leeks? (We didn’t say it had to be appetizing.) What would you serve a jeweler? Carats! Martha and Grant play the “What Would You Serve?” game.

Correcting Grammar Politely

 A Little Rock, Arkansas, caller has been going out with a Chinese woman. Her English is pretty good, but he wonders about the most polite way to correct a minor grammar mistake without ruining a new relationship.

Etymology of “Word Up”

 What’s the origin of the expressions “word!” and “word up!”? Grant shares a theory from the book Black Talk by Geneva Smitherman. Here’s that Eighties-era song “Word Up.”

Ketchup and Eggplant

 What would you serve a chronic procrastinator? Ketchup. What would you serve a fertility specialist? Eggplant. Martha serves up those and others.

Limericks Quiz

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a limericks news quiz.


 A woman in Gainesville, Florida, says her father and his partner have an ongoing Scrabble feud over rebeheaded. Is it a word?

The Positive Anymore

 “Anymore, I play golf instead of tennis.” Grant explains that this grammatical construction is known as the “positive anymore.”

Six Degrees of Separation

 What would you serve to people separated by six degrees? Bacon!


 A sign-language interpreter found herself translating the word doldrums. She wonders if it has to do the area of the ocean known by that name.

Serving Up Beets

 What would you serve a group of musicians and cardiologists? How about beets?

Collective Plant Names

 Martha shares some collective nouns sent in by listeners in response to a recent episode on the topic.


 What does nonplussed mean, exactly? Does it mean “unflappable” or “at a loss.” Martha and Grant disagree about its use.

Who and Whom Jingle

 Is there some kind of snappy jingle for knowing when to use who and whom?

Dictionary of American Proverbs

 Grant shares some familiar proverbs that supposedly arose from African-American English. The book he mentions is Dictionary of American Proverbs by Wolfgang Mieder.


 Need a word for “lover of the underdog”? It’s infracaninophile.

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Episode

Black Talk by Geneva Smitherman
Dictionary of American Proverbs by Wolfgang Mieder

Music Used in the Episode

Word Up!CameoWord Up!MCA
Where Are We Going?Donald ByrdBlack ByrdBlue Note
If You’ve Got It, Flaunt ItRamsey LewisAnother VoyageCadet
LethaCharles EarlandBlack DropsPrestige Records, Inc
People SayThe MetersRejuvenationSundazed
Lansana’s PriestessDonald ByrdStreet LadyBlue Note
My Cherie AmourRamsey LewisAnother VoyageCadet
Chicken Lickin’Funk IncChicken Lickin’Prestige Records, Inc
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffHarry Connick Jr.When Harry Met Sally: Music From The Motion PictureSony

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