Episodes

  • 903. A listener heard some jargon, and then got annoyed by "said" jargon, so we explored why. Plus, who the heck are your kith? And finally, we got excited about the first new Scrabble words since 2018.

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/a-strange-use-of-said/transcript

    | Ragan Advanced AP Style Webinar

    | Merriam-Webster Scrabble Website

    The "said" segment was written by Susan K. Herman, a former editor, language analyst, and language instructor for the U.S. Government.

    The "kith" segment was written by Samantha Enslen, who runs Dragonfly Editorial. You can find her at dragonflyeditorial.com or on Twitter as @DragonflyEdit.

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    Audio engineer: Nathan SemesEditor: Adam CecilAdvertising Operations Specialist: Morgan ChristiansonMarketing and Publicity Assistant: Davina TomlinDigital Operations Specialist: Holly HutchingsIntern: Kamryn Lacy

    | Theme music by Catherine Rannus.

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    References for the "kith" segment:

    Ammer, Christine. Kith and kin. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

    Dent, Suzie. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 19th edition. Chambers Harrap, 2013.

    Oxford English Dictionary, online edition. Oxford University Press. http://bit.ly/1MExZUo (subscription required, accessed November 23, 2022).

    Etymonline (accessed November 23, 2022). https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=kith

  • 902. Language reflects culture, so it's no surprise that giving thanks hundreds of years ago was different from giving thanks today. We have the fascinating history. Plus, since "Thanksgiving" is a gerund, we looked at all the interesting things you can do with gerunds in general.

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/thank-you-history/transcript

    The Thanksgiving history segment was written by Valerie Fridland, a professor of linguistics at the University of Nevada in Reno and the author of the forthcoming book, "Like, Literally Dude," about all the speech habits we love to hate. You can find her at valeriefridland.com or on Twitter at @FridlandValerie.

    The gerund segment was written by Neal Whitman, an independent writer and consultant specializing in language and grammar and a member of the Reynoldsburg, Ohio, school board. You can find him on Facebook, on Twitter as @literalminded, and on his blog at literalminded.wordpress.com.

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    | Theme music by Catherine Rannus.

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    References for the Thanksgiving history segment:

    Culpeper, Jonathan and Demmen, Jane. 2011. Nineteenth-century English politeness: Negative politeness, conventional indirect requests and the rise of the individual self. Journal of Historical Pragmatics, 12 (1/2). pp. 49-81.

    Jacobsson, M. 2002. Thank you and thanks in Early Modern English. ICAME Journal 26: 63-80.

    Taavitsainen, Irma, Jucker, Andreas H. 2010. Expressive speech acts and politeness in eighteenth century English. In: Hickey, R. (Ed.), Eighteenth Century English: Ideology and Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 159-181.

    "thank, n.". OED Online. September 2022. Oxford University Press.

    "welcome, n.1, adj., and int." OED Online. September 2022. Oxford University Press

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  • 901. WWII spawned a bunch of new words, including "boffin" and "bonkers." We'll look into the history of these fun words and more in honor of Veterans Day. Plus, we'll talk about why an Australian called her desk being on fire, "a bit of an issue."

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/wwii-words-a-bit-of-an-issue-kleenex/transcript

    | The segment on "a bit" is written by Isabelle Burke, Research Fellow in Linguistics, the Faculty of Arts, Monash University. It originally appeared on Monash Lens and appears here through a Creative Commons license.

    | My first WWII word round-up.

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    Audio engineer: Nathan SemesEditor: Adam CecilAdvertising Operations Specialist: Morgan ChristiansonMarketing and Publicity Assistant: Davina TomlinDigital Operations Specialist: Holly HutchingsIntern: Kamryn Lacy

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  • 900. The story of the @ symbol is much bigger than email. In fact, it was used for hundreds of years before being saved from obscurity by the invention of electronic communication. I explore the medieval origin story of @, plus share a bunch of fun names for it in other languages. Also, many style books recently removed the hyphen from dual-heritage terms like "Asian American," and I explain why in a segment that includes a tribute to former Los Angeles Times editor Henry Fuhrmann.

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/where-did-we-get-the-at-symbol/transcript

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    Audio engineer: Nathan SemesEditor: Adam CecilAdvertising Operations Specialist: Morgan ChristiansonMarketing and Publicity Assistant: Davina TomlinDigital Operations Specialist: Holly HutchingsIntern: Kamryn Lacy

    | Theme music by Catherine Rannus.

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  • 899. Believe it or not, "magick" isn't just a funky way of spelling "magic." The two spellings have different meanings. Plus, we look at the unusual origins of other cool words that make us think of Halloween: "haunt," "grave," "mesmerize," and "macabre."

    | Segment 1 on "magic" versus "magick" was written by Michaela Dunn.

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/magic-versus-magick

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    Audio engineer: Nathan SemesEditor: Adam CecilAdvertising Operations Specialist: Morgan ChristiansonMarketing and Publicity Assistant: Davina TomlinDigital Operations Specialist: Holly HutchingsIntern: Kamryn Lacy

    | Theme music by Catherine Rannus.

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  • 898. Randall Munroe joined me this week to talk about his language-themed xkcd cartoons, his simple-language project Up Goer V, his biggest pet peeve, his favorite words, and his new book "What If? 2." But I have to confess that my favorite part was his tidbits about the bee laws.

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/randall-munroe-of-xkcd

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    Audio engineer: Nathan SemesEditor: Adam CecilAdvertising Operations Specialist: Morgan ChristiansonMarketing and Publicity Assistant: Davina TomlinDigital Operations Specialist: Holly HutchingsIntern: Kamryn Lacy

    | Theme music by Catherine Rannus.

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  • 897. Have you ever written yourself into a "that that" or a "had had" situation and wondered how you got there? It doesn't mean you're a bad writer! I explain why this happens sometimes and how to best fix it. Also, we talk about the fascinating subconscious rules that guide conversations.

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/the-subconscious-rules-of-conversation

    | Segment 2 is by Valerie Fridland: Website. Twitter.

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  • 896. If you've ever wondered why we pronounce the "-ed" at the end of "wicked" (and "jagged," "beloved" and more), but don't at the end of words like "aggrieved," this show is for you! You'll also discover why "wicked" is different from "naked" and what's weird about the phrase "wicked witch." Plus, you'll learn why we call some food "deviled."

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/the-weird-pronunciation-of-wicked

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    Audio engineer: Nathan SemesEditor: Adam CecilAdvertising Operations Specialist: Morgan ChristiansonMarketing and Publicity Assistant: Davina TomlinDigital Operations Specialist: Holly HutchingsIntern: Kamryn Lacy

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  • 895. A listener asked why he's hearing people refer to men as "widows," and we found a surprising history. Also, I recently mentioned a blurb I wrote, and a reader wanted to know where we get that funny word "blurb."

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/when-is-a-man-a-widow

    | Merriam-Webster "blurb" article.

    | Grammar Girl sci-fi versus fantasy article.

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  • 894. Whether you're getting ready for National Novel Writing Month or just want to watch movies or read novels with more insight, this interview with fiction editor Joshua Essoe will help you about mood and atmosphere in ways you probably haven't considered before.

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/mood-atmosphere-in-fiction-an-interview-with-joshua-essoe

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  • 893. You may be surprised by the origin of the split infinitive "rule" and by the times they are OK...or even necessary! Also, we look at slang phrases that drop whole grammatical elements and how they reinforce that in-group/out-group feeling of slang.

    | Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/split-infinitives

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  • 892. We recently got a question about why people use a type of double-verb construction, such as "We might could go to the store." We have the answer! Plus, in honor of the upcoming National Hispanic Heritage Month, we look at the influence Spanish has had on English. You probably know more Spanish words than you realize!

    Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/why-some-people-say-might-could

    "Double Modals" was written by Neal Whitman.
    "The Spanish Influence on English" was written by Susan K. Herman

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  • 891. Your mind will be blown when you learn about accent hallucination. (Mine was!) And then we'll learn how to avoid false ranges.

    Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/accent-hallucination-false-ranges

    References for the Accent Hallucination segment by Valerie Fridland:

    Babel, M., & Russell, J. (2015). Expectations and speech intelligibility. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 137(5), 2823–2833.

    Bradlow, A. R., and Bent, T. (2008). Perceptual adaptation to non-native

    Speech. Cognition 106(2), 707–729.

    Lev-Ari, S., & Keysar, B. (2010). Why don't we believe non-native speakers? the influence of accent on credibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(6), 1093-1096:

    Rubin, D.L. 1992. Nonlanguage factors affecting undergraduates' judgments of nonnative English-speaking teaching assistants. Res High Educ 33, 511–531

    Vaughn C. R. (2019). Expectations about the source of a speaker's accent affect accent adaptation. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 145(5), 3218.

    References for the False Range segment by Rhiannon Root:

    Walsh, B. "Everything's Ranging." The Slot. https://www.theslot.com/range.html (accessed September 1, 2022).

    Grammar Monkeys (McLendon, L.). "Home, home on the range." Madam Grammar. May 20, 2010. https://madamgrammar.com/tag/false-range/ (accessed September 1, 2022).

    McIntyre, J. "Getting the range." You Don't Say. February 10, 2010. http://johnemcintyre.blogspot.com/2010/02/getting-range.html (accessed September 1, 2022).

    "Commas." The Chicago Manual of Style (Q&A), 17th edition. https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/data/faq/topics/Commas/faq0062.html (accessed September 1, 2022).

    Corbett, P.B. "Everything from this to that." After Deadline: New York Times Blog. August 24, 2010. https://archive.nytimes.com/afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/everything-from-this-to-that/ (accessed September 1, 2022).

    "Appendix." SeaWorld. https://seaworld.org/animals/all-about/penguins/appendix/ (accessed September 1, 2022).

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  • 890. John Kelly, senior director of editorial at Dictionary.com, talks with Mignon about a bunch of fun new words and about how words get added to the dictionary in general.

    Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/skrrt-bottle-episode-skeuomorphs

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  • 889. Splooting squirrels have taken the internet by storm. We look at where this fun word comes from and how far back it goes. Plus, I help you decide which title capitalization rules to follow.

    Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/whats-up-with-splooting-capitalizing-titles-momilltellya

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  • 888. This week we take a fascinating look at how highly gendered languages are dealing with the drive to become more inclusive. Plus, we look at the differences between "simple" and "simplistic" and "backward" and "backwards."

    Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/how-gendered-languages-are-changing-jugopop

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    References for the gendered language segment by Valerie Fridland:

    Braun, F., Sczesny, S., & Stahlberg, D. (2005). Cognitive Effects of Masculine Generics in German: An Overview of Empirical Findings. Communications (Sankt Augustin), 30(1), 1-21.


    Carreiras, M., Garnham, A., Oakhill, J., & Cain, K. (1996). The use of stereotypical gender information in constructing a mental model: evidence from English and Spanish. The Quarterly journal of experimental psychology. A, Human experimental psychology, 49(3), 639–663.

    DeFranza, D., Mishra, H., & Mishra, A. (2020). How language shapes prejudice against women: An examination across 45 world languages. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 119(1), 7–22.

    Eilers, S., Tiffin-Richards, S. P., & Schroeder, S. (2018). Individual differences in children’s pronoun processing during reading: Detection of incongruence is associated with higher reading fluency and more regressions. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 173, 250-267.

    Stahlberg, D., Braun, F., Irmen, L., & Sczesny, S. (2007). Representation of the sexes in language. In K. Fiedler (Ed.), Social communication. A volume in the series Frontiers of Social Psychology.163-187.

    Moehlman, Lara. (2018) Can Hebrew Be Gender Neutral? https://momentmag.com/can-hebrew-be-gender-neutral/. Accessed 8.7.2022.

  • An amazing study shows that tool use and language are connected in the brain and shows how using one can make you better at the other, and vice versa. Plus we look at some tricky possessives. Can you say "a friend of mine's car"?

    Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/how-using-pliers-improves-your-language

    The tools and language segment is by Claudio Brozzoli a researcher at INSERM Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, and the Impact team at the Karolinska Institute, and Simon Thibault, a Postdoctoral Researcher at Lyon Neuroscience Research Center. It originally appeared on The Conversation and appears here through a Creative Commons license. Read the original (without my interjections).

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  • The delightful Ellen Jovin of the Grammar Table (you may have seen her sitting on the street answering grammar questions in your city) joined me to talk about her new book, "Rebel with a Clause," what possessed her to set up the Grammar Table in the first place, why Twitter is vastly better than Facebook for doing language polls, and more.

    Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/ellen-jovin-of-the-grammar-table

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  • It's time for our quarterly listener question extravaganza! I answer your questions about the words "ripe," "lede," "prevent," "awesome," and "fulsome" and share some knowledge about MacGuffins and the drink known as a daisy.

    Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/ripe-lede-prevent-awesome-fulsome-macguffin-daisy

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  • People often ask why people say "no worries" or "no problem" instead of "you're welcome," and we actually found an answer! Also, we look at whether it's OK to use "whose" for inanimate objects in a sentence such as "The chair whose legs are broken."

    Transcript: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/why-nobody-says-youre-welcome-anymore-whose-chimichanga

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    https://www.linkedin.com/company/grammar-girl

    References for the "you're welcome" segment by Valerie Fridland:

    Aijmer, Karin. 1996. Conversational routines in English: Convention and creativity. London et al.: Longman.

    Dinkin, Aaron. J. 2018. It's no problem to be polite: Apparent‐time change in responses to thanks. Journal of Sociolinguistics 22(2): 190-215.

    Jacobsson, M. 2002. Thank you and thanks in Early Modern English. ICAME Journal 26: 63-80.

    Rüegg, Larssyn. 2014. Thanks responses in three socio-economic settings: A variational pragmatics approach. Journal of Pragmatics 71. pp. 17–30.

    Schneider, Klaus P. 2005. ‘No problem, you’re welcome, anytime’: Responding to thanks in Ireland, England, and the U.S.A. In Anne Barron & Klaus P. Schneider (eds.), The pragmatics of Irish English, Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 101–139.

    References for the "whose" segment by Bonnie Mills:

    American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style. 2005. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, pp. 505-6.

    American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Fourth edition. 2006. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, p. 1965.

    Burchfield, R. W, ed. 1996. The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Third edition. New York: Oxford, p. 563.