That's What They Say

From Michigan Radio

Every Sunday, UM English Professor Anne Curzan and Michigan Radio's Rina Miller explore our changing language (word!). Each week, they'll talk about why we say what we say (church!).More from That's What They Say »

Most Recent Episodes

It's getting hammy in here

At the behest of a colleague, University of Michigan Professor Anne Curzan started poking into the history of ham. The word, that is. "When you think...

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Groovy, baby: The rise and fall of the groove

Few words carry the cultural weight of a decade like the 1960s mantra, groovy. It can seem hard to separate the word from the period, but, according to...

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Sticks and stones may break bones, but words could make it worse

"You're going to feel a little pinch." We've all heard some variation of this phrase before, either at a doctor's office or a clinic, and we all know w...

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What's the fashion of our fashionable words?

It's easy to take for granted, but we use some pretty curious words for clothing. Blazer? Galoshes? What's the story there? University of Michigan...

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If you're running from pillar to post, maybe you need a bigger racquet

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan has such a busy schedule, it's sometimes hard to find the time to produce our weekly "That's What...

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The problem when correct pronunciation is your forte

Like spending a weekend binge-watching House of Cards, some things we do not because it's the correct thing, but simply because it feels right. As it...

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Easedropping vs. eavesdropping, and the return of the eggcorn

You've probably heard of the word eavesdropping, but what about the word easedropping? "Eavesdropping can be easy, which is why some folks now refer to...

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What's a "rabble" without the "rouser"?

We all admit to being a rabble-rouser once in a while, but no one wants to be a part of the rabble. It's even built into the language. After all, how...

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Why do you suppose academics say symposium?

If you attended a symposium in the 18th century, you likely did so with an "adult beverage" in hand. Now, the word symposium strikes a different image:...

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The haziness of hung vs. hanged

Dorothy is a listener with a problem: The misusage of the words hung and hanged is killing her sanity. For Dorothy, it seems like many people can't tell...

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