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A Way with Words



A radio program and podcast about language.



Last Build Date: Tue, 23 May 2017 14:35:31 +0000

 



Hell for Leather

Sat, 13 May 2017 16:32:51 +0000

Victorian slang and a modern controversy over language and gender. In the early 1900’s, a door-knocker wasn’t just what visitors used to announce their arrival, it was a type of beard with a similar shape. And in the 21st century: Is it ever okay to call someone a lady? Or is woman always the better [...]



Skedaddle

Mon, 08 May 2017 19:03:53 +0000

The months of September, October, November, and December take their names from Latin words meaning “seven,” “eight,” “nine,” and “ten.” So why don’t their names correspond to where they fall in the year? The answer lies in an earlier version of the Roman calendar. • The sweltering period called the “dog days” takes its name [...]


Media Files:
http://feeds.waywordradio.org/~r/awwwpodcast/~5/UH2ZFd_e3h0/170508-AWWW-Skedaddle.mp3




The Origiins of Skedaddle

Mon, 08 May 2017 15:51:47 +0000

The origin of skedaddle, meaning to “run away in a panic” or “flee,” has proved elusive. Renowned etymologist Anatoly Liberman suggests it may be related to a Scottish term, skeindaddle, meaning “to spill.” Its popularity in the United States took off during the Civil War. This is part of a complete episode.



A Gender-Neutral Plural Pronoun for Talking to Groups

Mon, 08 May 2017 15:51:47 +0000

A U.S. Forest Service firefighter in Lakeland, Florida, also teaches classes on chainsaw safety, and wants to make sure he’s using gender-neutral pronouns when doing so. The epicene pronoun they will work just fine. This is part of a complete episode.



Sneck

Mon, 08 May 2017 15:51:47 +0000

A sneck is a kind of latch. A listener in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, says his British relatives sometimes use the term snecklifter to mean “a gift that will get you in the door at a dinner party.” This is part of a complete episode.



Why the Month Names Don’t Match Their Order

Mon, 08 May 2017 15:51:47 +0000

The months September, October, November, and December derive from Latin words that mean “seven,” “eight,” “nine,” and “ten” respectively. So why are they applied to the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth months of the year? The answer lies in the messy history of marking the year, described in detail in David Duncan’s book, Calendar: Humanity’s [...]



A Great Book by a Dictionary Editor

Mon, 08 May 2017 15:51:47 +0000

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, by Merriam-Webster lexicographer Kory Stamper, is a must-read for anyone interested in language and how dictionaries are made. This is part of a complete episode.



Las Caniculas

Mon, 08 May 2017 15:51:47 +0000

A San Antonio, Texas, listener recalls hearing the term las caniculas to denote a period of 12 days in January where the weather seems to run the gamut of all the kinds of weather that will be experienced in the coming year. This period is also known as las cabañuelas. Canicula derives from Latin for [...]



World Schooling

Mon, 08 May 2017 15:51:47 +0000

Some parents take homeschooling a step further with world-schooling, or educating children through shared travel experiences. This is part of a complete episode.



Nebby

Mon, 08 May 2017 15:51:47 +0000

The phrase to be nebby is heard particularly in Western Pennsylvania, and means to be “picky” or “gossipy.” Originally, it meant “nosy” or “snooping.” Nebby is a vestige of Scots-Irish, where the word neb means “nose” or “beak.” This is part of a complete episode.