That's What They Say Funner, snuck, and LOL are all things that we're hearing people say these days.That's What They Say is a weekly segment on Michigan Radio that explores our changing language.University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan studies linguistics and the history of the English language. Each week she'll discuss why we say what we say with Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth.That's What They Say airs Sundays at 9:35 a.m. on Michigan Radio and you can podcast it here.
That's What They Say

That's What They Say

From Michigan Radio

Funner, snuck, and LOL are all things that we're hearing people say these days.That's What They Say is a weekly segment on Michigan Radio that explores our changing language.University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan studies linguistics and the history of the English language. Each week she'll discuss why we say what we say with Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth.That's What They Say airs Sundays at 9:35 a.m. on Michigan Radio and you can podcast it here.

Most Recent Episodes

TWTS: Everybody "takes the L" sometimes

Sometimes a not-so-great experience can be made just a bit better if you have an excellent slang phrase to describe it. We think "take the L" falls right into that category.

TWTS: Looking for redundancy in "in and of itself"

Apparently, "in and of itself" is the source of some concern about redundancy. This phrase wasn't actually on our radar until a listener brought it up at our most recent Grammar Night event . The listener wanted to know whether the phrase is redundant. Why would you need to say "in and of itself" when you could just say "in itself"?

TWTS: Take a listen as we discuss "take a listen"

When someone asks you to "take a listen," it's usually meant as a friendly invitation. But not everyone wants to take a listen. Several listeners have asked us about this phrase, including one who wanted to know whether it's grammatically correct.

TWTS: For the "zh" sound, it's a consonant struggle

Consonant sounds like "sh" and "th" and "ch" have a reasonably secure place in our language. You'll find them at the beginning, middle and end of many English words. These consonants will likely never know the struggle that plagues the "zh" sound.

TWTS: Singular "they" and verb agreement

Pronouns are on the front burner of language change at the moment. As such, we get a lot of questions about them. For example, a listener recently asked if you should say, "They are going to the store," or "They is going to the store," when referring to one person.

TWTS: Don't get into a pique over "pique"

The word "pique" recently piqued the interest of one of our listeners. Colin Williams wrote to us after seeing the phrase, "As the president's pique became increasingly evident..." in a New York Times article . Williams says: "I've heard that something can 'pique your interest,' but the noun version is definitely new and different to me."

TWTS: Redundancies, or when something is nice enough to name twice

The Rio Grande is certainly a grand river. But not everyone thinks it's grand enough to be called "river" twice, as in the Rio Grande River. In case you're not up on your Spanish, saying "Rio Grande River" is redundant, since "rio" means "river." This phrase falls into one big category of place names that contain a word or phrase borrowed into English from another language.

TWTS: Don't count on "countless" to be literal

Grammarians sometimes worry about whether you can count the things to which a noun refers. And no, we're not talking about "less" and "fewer."

TWTS: The "needs washed" construction

Have you ever heard of the "needs washed" construction? That's when the verb "need" is followed by a past participle like "washed" or "fixed" without "to be." For example, "That dish needs washed." Two listeners recently wrote to us about this. One says she started to hear it when she moved to Michigan and the other after moving to northwest Ohio. Both say it's driving them crazy. There have been a lot of studies of "needs washed" as a regional feature in American English. While the epicenter

It's time for the lightning round

We get tons of great questions about language from our listeners. The problem is we only get to answer one or two per week. This week, we're doing things a little differently. We give you the That's What They Say lightning round.

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