Writing (117)

Writing: Barbara Shepherd and Dave Shepherd glance down at their written notes–albeit not handwritten–as they talk about writing.

Thanks to Kay Horst S., Jeff O., Kate S., Margaret C., and an anonymous friend for donations through the PayPal button. Thanks as well to Alan H., who sent us the link to the BBC news article that inspired this edition. (2:12)

Writing through history; how are different generations taught to write? We talk about thoughts on this topic from the following sources: the BBC and scaredmonkeys.com. (3:09)

Music bumper from “Edgar Meyer Winter” by Shibboleth (14:19)

Calligraphy: the art of writing (16:02)

Song: “So I’m Writing” by Geoff Smith (20:49)

Rude Word of the Week: “chicken scratch” (25:47)

Music bumper from “Melancolica” by the Mauricio Cuburu. (30:38)

Handwriting today and the effects of technological innovation (31:20)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing theme from “Grapes” by Evan Stone

time: 44:57

size: 41.2 Mb

rating: G (We hope to inspire some young listeners to write a handwritten note to somebody sometimes.)

Words and Phrases That Tick Us Off! (114)

Words and Phrases That Tick Us Off! Barbara Shepherd and Dave Shepherd are grouchy at the end of a tough work week. They explore words and phrases that tick them off.

Thanks to Warren G., John P., Andreas B., Elin P. David W., Mary T., and Nancy E.-W. for donations through the PayPal button. Thanks also to Paul L., that Hawaiian word curmudgeon, for an email that inspired this show. (2:16)

Overused words of 2008; words that have lost their meaning from overuse; the most used words in English. Check out britannica.com. (6:19)

Music bumper from “Ockham’s Shaving Kit” by George Hrab (18:53)

Redundancies (20:55)

Song: “Misunderstood” by Carolyn Wonderland (24:07)

Rude Word of the Week: “hack” (27:33)

Music bumper from “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” by the Jay Lawrence Trio. (31:16)

Words and phrases that are commonly misused. (They bug us because we get them wrong! (32:06)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network and the Ioda Promonet

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing theme from “Grapes” by Evan Stone

time: 39:16

size: 36 Mb

rating: PG (Passing reference to prostitution in our Rude Word segment.)

Miss UnderstoodCarolyn Wonderland
“Misunderstood” (mp3)
from “Miss Understood”
(Bismeaux Records)

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Thermal StrutJay Lawrence Trio
“Tell Me a Bedtime Story” (mp3)
from “Thermal Strut”
(OA2 Records)

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Morphing, Changing, and Dying Words (111)

Morphing, Changing, and Dying Words: Barbara Shepherd and Dave Shepherd look at words that shift and change over time–or sometimes die out altogether.

Thanks to Carlos in Spain, who recently helped us discovered a technical problem with our site and podcast. The Word Nerds now have a page on Facebook. (Dave briefly confuses Facebook with MySpace.) (2:15)

Morphing words: words whose meanings change over time. We looked at the journal Nature to learn something about change in meaning. George McNamee had an interesting blog post at the Encyclopedia Britannica blog recently on words that go away. (3:27)

Music bumper from “Court of Greedy Kings” by Val Davis (15:48)

Lost words: words that have fallen out of common use. To find a fantastic list of words nobody ever uses anymore, go to the Phrontistery website by Stephen Chrisomalis. (17:11)

Song: “Change” by Azure McCall (26:28)

Rude Word of the Week: “scurvy” (30:31)

Music bumper from “Under the Stairs” by Sonic Deviant. (33:43)

Rare words: words that are still current, but not commonly used. The Grandiloquent Dictionary has some great examples. (34:26)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network and the Ioda Promonet

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing theme from “Grapes” by Evan Stone

time: 39:03

size: 35.8 Mb

rating: PG (Our Rude Word segment quotes a rather scathing and rude insult from a Shakespeare play.)

The GiftAzure McCall
“Change” (mp3)
from “The Gift”
(Musefx Records)

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Irony and Satire (109)

Irony and Satire: Barbara Shepherd and Dave Shepherd try to avoid speaking sarcastically to each other as they explore irony and satire.

This week’s topic was suggested by Abbie G., a smart 9th-grader. Ironically, this show ended up being rated “R” and given an explicit tag. (Sorry, Abbie!) (2:08)

Dave and Barbara just attended the show awarding the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, honoring the late George Carlin. Carlin was a master of American satire. This show will air on PBS on April 1, 2009. (2:40)

Comedy as a culturally-specific phenomenon; the two careers of George Carlin (7:00)

Music bumper from “Baja Taxi” by Brain Buckit (18:59)

Carlin’s famous “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”; Lewis Black and censorship at the Kennedy Center (21:15)

Is George Carlin the modern Mark Twain? (27:13)

Song: “Chiron Beta Prime” by Jonathan Coulton (32:18)

Rude Word of the Week: “genius” (35:07)

Music bumper from “Round One” by Evan Tate. (38:30)

Parody vs. satire: Mad Magazine, Weird Al Yankovic, and Saturday Night Live’s take on Sarah Palin (39:10)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing theme from “Grapes” by Evan Stone

time: 48:18

size: 44.2 Mb

rating: R (It is impossible to talk about the work of George Carlin without talking about “forbidden” words–and we use a couple of really taboo words several times. Once again, apologies, Abbie!)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCljFYn3zTY

George Carlin and his great “Modern Man” routine
(This routine is perfectly clean and a brilliant display of American English.)

Debate (107)

Debate: Barbara Shepherd and Dave Shepherd argue back and forth and try to come to agreement about the meaning of debate.

Thanks to Alex Enkerli for an audio comment on MyChingo. (2:03)

This edition was inspired by an email from Paul Lawler (3:45)

Definitions of debate; what exactly constitutes a debate? (5:26)

Music bumper from “Arabesque” by Mauricio Cuburu (11:21)

Different types of debates for different purposes and in different forums; check out the Copley Debates website, as well as Trivium Pursuit and the Aberdeen Central High School site. We also discuss Robert’s Rules of Order.(13:26)

Song: “Support for My Argument” by Emma Wallace (25:11)

Rude Word of the Week: “filibuster” (28:55)

Music bumper from “Rebuttal” by The Working Title. (32:44)

When does an argument become a debate? A brief homage to Monty Python’s classic “Argument” sketch: “Just saying no isn’t an argument!” “Yes it is.” “No it isn’t!” (33:24)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network.

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing theme from “Grapes” by Evan Stone

time: 39:44

size: 36.4 Mb

rating: G (This entire discussion of debate is conducted in a civil and respectful manner.)

Ambiguity (105)

Ambiguity: Barbara Shepherd and Dave Shepherd try very hard to figure out exactly what each other means, as they explore the topic of ambiguity.

Thanks to Paul L., Smaran D., Mary M., Michelle M., Dolores B., and Peter D. for PayPal donations (1:52)

Emails from Paul L., Adam R., Maria C., and Anne J. Also, Evan Stone, who composed and played our closing theme music, played in Beijing for the Olympic marathon. (2:53)

Ambiguity defined: “Capability of being understood in two or more ways; double or dubious signification, ambiguousness.” Synonyms of ambiguous: enigmatic, equivocal, indeterminate, obscure, vague, unintelligible, dubious, double-entendre, ambivalent, uncertain (8:34)

Structural ambiguity: syntactic ambiguity, lexical ambiguity, and misinterpretation (such as mondegreens) (12:53)

Music bumper from “Whatever Stupid” by Ben Thomas (18:20)

Intentional ambiguity (19:11)

Song: “Whatever” by Natalie (25:21)

Rude Word of the Week: “whatever” (29:14)

Music bumper from “Telepop” by The Jerrys. (32:36)

Amusing intentional ambiguities: double entendres, jokes for adults buried in children’s shows (as done by Soupy Sales), and the mighty Groucho Marx (33:23)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network and Ioda Promonet

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing theme from “Grapes” by Evan Stone

time: 41:03

size: 37.6 Mb

rating: PG (Our song has a rude word for “poop,” and we talk about sexual double-entendres.)

The MystagogueBen Thomas
“Whatever Stupid” (mp3)
from “The Mystagogue”
(Origin Records)

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Rock MeNatalie
“Whatever” (mp3)
from “Rock Me”
(Bright Pink Music)

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Prosody (103)

Prosody: Barbara Shepherd and Dave Shepherd try not to use “that tone” with each other as they discuss prosody in speech and in poetry.

Thanks to Marilyn O. for a PayPal donation (1:54)

Speech prosody: the rhythm, intonation, and grouping of sounds that are part of human speech. (2:17)

Music bumper from “Heartless” by Michael Burks (15:44)

Prosody in poetry and music (18:13)

Song: “Tongue Tied” by Hollins Steele (26:55)

Rude Word of the Week: “beyotch” (30:49)

Music bumper from “Necessary Rain” by Emile Westergaard. (33:40)

Characteristic systems of prosody in different languages; the prosody of presidential names (with thanks to Ian Ayres, writing in the Freakonomics blog of the New York Times) (34:14)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing theme from “Grapes” by Evan Stone

time: 42:38

size: 39.1 Mb

rating: PG-13 (The Rude Word is a prosodic modification of a really rude word.)

Games and Wordplay (101)

Games and Wordplay: Barbara Shepherd and Dave Shepherd explore word games, games with words, and ways of playing with words.

Dave thanks Brad and Naoko for donations, and Naoko, Ralsen, Asa, Jason and Hossein for their emails. (1:59)

This show was inspired by a game published by Brad Chase, Orijinz. We play a couple of rounds. (Thanks, Brad!) (6:51)

Music bumper from “Bongo Booty” by Vincent Van GoGo. (12:09)

Some of our favorite games for word nerds young and old (12:47)

  • Scrabble
  • Boggle
  • Taboo
  • Scattergories
  • Tribond

Some good sources for online word games: East of the Web, Word Plays, and good old Yahoo (21:29)

Song: “The Mating Game” by Bitter:Sweet (22:37)

Rude Word of the Week: “nucking futs” and other rude Spoonerisms (25:57)

Music bumper from “Tonight” by Zach Ashton. (29:39)

Spoonerisms as wordplay, including a very rude running skit from RTL Samstag Nacht Live based on a Spoonerism (30:07)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network and Ioda Promonet

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing music from “Grapes” by Evan Stone

time: 38:59

size: 35.7 Mb

rating: R (Our rude word is a variant of the ever-rude “F-word.” We close with reference to a German television skit that is based totally on the “F-word.”)

The Mating GameBitter:Sweet
“The Mating Game” (mp3)
from “The Mating Game”
(Quango)

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