Your Letters: 40-Year-Old Intern, Funniest Words

Guest host Daniel Zwerdling reads listeners' letters about a 40-year-old intern and suggestions for the funniest clean word in the English language.

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DANIEL ZWERDLING, host:

And it's time now for your letters.

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ZWERDLING: First, a correction on behalf of Scott Simon. He talked last week with Marin Alsop, a music conductor. They chatted about a song that attempted to mimic the game of soccer. Well, both Scott and Marin said that soccer players do not dribble. However, as many of you know, dribbling is a big part of the game. That's how you move the ball forward with tiny kicks as you run down the field.

And several listeners were dismayed by the tone of Scott's interview with Carrie Spini. She's 40 years old and she's doing an internship at the Santa Cruz, California Chamber of Commerce.

Ann Boyd(ph) of Landenberg, Pennsylvania wrote: There is nothing inherently funny about a woman in her 40s doing an internship. As a returning student, I did internships in my 30s. Your guest cooperated gamely, even when you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. But it was bit ageist of you and lacked your usual sensitivity. Lots of us come late to our careers and deserve more respect for trying an internship, not scorned for being over-age.

We also got a lot of letters about our segment with Harold Ramis. He's the director and comedian. And with Mike Sacks, the author. They talked about humor and what just might be the funniest clean word in the English language.

Here's what a listener in Lexington, Massachusetts came up with.

Mr. ERIK SVENSON(ph): I can consistently get my boys, 10 and 14, to laugh when I use the word spleen in a song or sentence.

(Singing) I left my spleen in San Francisco.

(Speaking) Or "Your Cheatin' Spleen." Spleenfully yours, Erik Svenson.

ZWERDLING: And Mr. Svenson wasn't the only one with a pretty good funniest word suggestion. Some of you subscribe to the old comedic wisdom that there's something funny about the letter K.

R. Steely(ph) of Portland, Oregon wrote: After much thought, I'd like to add a word to your list of funniest clean words in the English language: spork. It has a K, it sounds silly, and, well, a spork is silly, and it rhymes with dork.

And this is from Guy Velgus(ph) of Tucson, Arizona: My nomination for the funniest clean word in English is kumquats. It combines the K sound, twice, with a muted chomped waaah sound. Have I sufficiently overanalyzed this? he writes.

Spleen, spork, kumquats. Try saying that three times fast.

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ZWERDLING: We welcome your comments and suggestions on any of our stories, comedic or tragic. Look for the Listener Comments section for every piece at our new npr.org, where you'll find the stories, topics, and programs are a lot easier than they used to be to navigate and share. Or you can go to npr.org and click on Contact Us; just remember to tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name.

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