That's What They Say is a weekly segment on Michigan Radio that explores our changing language. Each week University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan will discuss why we say what we say with Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth.
Pass the muster, er, mustard
While "passing the mustard" is about handing over the Dijon or spicy brown, "cutting the mustard" is the phrase that means to meet expectations, similar to "passing muster."
TWTS: The fantastic and/or fantastical voyage of "fantastic" and "fantastical"
Standard dictionaries have yet to catch up with us as we differentiate "fantastic" and "fantastical."
TWTS: The power of a hyphen
A hyphen can mean the difference between resigning from a job or re-signing a contract to keep that job. But style guides don't always agree on which words should get one.
TWTS: Infeasible or unfeasible? Just pick the one you like
Do we really need both "infeasible" and "unfeasible?" It's feasible to argue that we don't.
TWTS: Staving off questions about "staffs" and "staves"
If you have one staff, as in a stick, and then you add another staff, you now run into the question of whether you have two staffs or two staves.
TWTS: Prior to adding "to," no one cares about "previous" and "prior"
The words "previous" and "prior" are synonyms and don’t get much attention from language commentators.
I absorb books about English usage, so I have looked forward to and enjoyed Sunday mornings.
However occasionally I do miss some broadcasts, so THANK YOU for the blog! We are about to fly to see our (UM Alumna) daughter, so I am saving the blog entries as a treat during our the flight. Love it!
a modest excellence
Always a worthwhile way to spend 5 minutes a week.
Short & Fun language notes!
Fun for English language learners and also English language users!!