The Word Nerds: A Weekly Podcast About Words, Language, and Why We Say the Things We Do

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copyright © 2005, 2006 by Dave Shepherd, Howard Shepherd, and Howard Chang

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Dave Shepherd explains that the only reason this show is rated 'R' is because of the second song. (It would otherwise probably be PG.) (1:59)

Howard Chang, Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd talk about the langauge of games and playing. (2:19)

Song: 'Play My Game,' by Heidi McCurdy (6:35)

More gaming language--'frolic,' 'cavort,' 'puzzle,' 'pun' (9:35)

Music bumper from 'Games' by Shaun (15:30)

Greetings from Simran in India. (15:53)

Rude word of the week: 'player/playa' (16:16)

Song: 'Playa's Fo Life,' by Gangsta Tea, the Oklahoma Realist (18:36)

Games nerds play (23:05)

  • Catchphrase (23:17)
  • Taboo (24:40)
  • Scattergories (25:53)
  • Fictionary (27:17)
You play Fictionary with us. Type your answers to the word 'melicrate' as comments here under this blog post. (Listen to the choices first.) (32:37)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 35:42
size: 16.4 Mb

rating: R (Our discussion is all pretty PG-mild, but our second song uses a racial epithet and rather rude street slang for women.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-12-31.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:42am EDT

Dave Shepherd introduces a look back over the previous 41 editions of The Word Nerds, on behalf of Howard Shepherd and Howard Chang. (3:27)

Greeting from Annik Rubens of Schlaflos in München (7:10)

Song: 'Why,' by The Day Traders (7:31)

Greeting from Sébastien of French Podclass (11:26)

Clips from the past year:

Greeting from Paul Nicholls of podcastpaul.com (17:40) Greeting from Chad ('Me') & the Bean from podcastrant.com (21:05)

Song: 'Friday Night,' by Amy Dalley (21:05)

Greeting from Jason of Perth, Australia (24:52)

Rude Words of the Week:

Greeting from Scott Fletcher of Podcheck Review (29:10)

Song: 'Talk, Talk, Talk,' by Cheryl B. Engelhardt (29:10)

Greeting and etymology of 'accent' from Charles Hodgson of podictionary (31:31)

More clips from the past:

Greeting from Holger of MacManiacs (36:11)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com and The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 41:53
size: 19.2 Mb

rating: PG-13 (some of our most interesting rude words, plus sexual references in our clip from the Euphemisms show)

Direct download: TWN-2005-12-24.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd define insidious idioms--quirky forms of expression that don't seem quirky to native speakers. (2:33)

Song: 'Figure It Out,' by Cara Aley (7:00)

Embedded metaphor versus insidious idiom (10:02)

Music bumper from 'Like Shine' by Likeshine. (18:18)

Rude word of the week: 'piss off' (18:46)

Song: 'So Long, Goodby,' by The Jimi Ruccolo Band (23:12)

Cross cultural confusions and insidious idioms (26:25)

Annik Rubens chats with Dave about cross-cultural confusion in Germany (26:37)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 32:27
size: 14.9 Mb

rating: PG (We chose a less rude Rude Word than we original considered, but it's still rather rude. We also make a brief, non-explicit sexual reference.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-12-17.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03pm EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd explore the etymology of words used to talk about curiosity. (Thanks to Paul Lawler for this topic suggestion.) (1:54)
  • curious
  • quidnunc
Song: 'Why,' by Mandi Perkins (6:19)

More about the dark side of curiosity (10:30)

  • eavesdropper
  • voyeur
  • gossip
  • Schadenfreude
  • spying, espionage
  • interrogation
Music bumper from 'Why' by Don't Call Me Dude (16:23)

Rude word of the week: 'MYOB (mind your own business)' (17:06)

Song: 'Why,' by The Day Traders (19:12)

Curiosity as a good thing (the quality that teachers like students to have) (23:07)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 29:25
size: 13.5 Mb

rating: PG (discussion of Jeffrey Eugenides' fascinating novel Middlesex, about a hermaphrodite)

Direct download: TWN-2005-12-10.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:48pm EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd tip their hats to the great, famous, and influential word nerds in the modern history of the English language. (1:49)

Song: 'Talk, Talk, Talk,' by Cheryl B. Engelhardt (16:17 )

Our friend Jason from Perth, Australia sends greetings. (18:37)

Rude word of the week: 'old fart' (18:46)

Song: 'Mark My Words,' by Granian (22:32)

Word nerds in the mass media (up to, and including podcasting) (25:44)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat, courtesy of GarageBand.com

time: 33:50
size: 15.5 Mb

rating: PG (We mention a recent rude Rude Word and explicate the details of this week's Rude Word.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-12-03.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd talk about a virtual rainbow of color metaphors. (2:03)

Song: 'Blue Bird Tattoo,' by Circe Link (20:02)

Rude word of the week: 'yellow' (23:06)

Song: 'Lime,' by Persona (26:22)

The many faces of 'green,' plus a bit of brown-nosing (29:53)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 35:17
size: 16.2 Mb

rating: PG (Everything's just fine, until we talk about brown-nosing at the end.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-11-26.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03pm EDT

Dave Shepherd explains why we put a 'ratings' announcement at the beginning of each show. (1:51)

Howard Shepherd and Dave give it 110% as they explore clichés. (3:04)

Song: 'Friday Night,' by Amy Dalley (13:33)

Rude word of the week: 'shit happens' (17:21)

Song: 'Sick As a Dog,' by Brad Sucks (21:04)

Clichés from the news (24:12)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat, courtesy of GarageBand.com

time: 31:25
size: 14.4 Mb

rating: PG-13 (Our rude word is one that Dave, for one, would not want to hear his middle-school students use.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-11-19.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:46pm EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd talk about the relationship of names to identity--a revisitation of our show 'The Power of Names.' (1:54)

  • Many listeners have emailed us with comments about name-related topics. (2:08)
  • Names are used as concealments and as self-expression on the Internet. (4:55)
  • Our names are connected to our faces and identities. (8:39)
  • Names enter our language as eponymous adjectives. (12:40)
Song: 'Forget My Name,' by The Spinning Jennies (17:57)

Rude word of the week: 'troll' (20:45)

Song: 'Find My Name,' by Kristin Dare (24:50)

Marriage and names--changes and choices (28:55)

An ancient Roman's life changes when he takes his adopted father's name. (31:52)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 35:42
size: 16.4 Mb

rating: PG (explanation of a Neronian phlebotomy; a rude definition of our Rude Word)

Direct download: TWN-2005-11-12.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:59pm EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd talk about euphemisms--nice ways of saying things. (Mom taught us that if we couldn't say anything nice, we shouldn't say anything at all.) (1:52) Song: 'Collateral Damage,' by Furthur Abuse (17:48)

Rude word of the week: 'vomit,' and several euphemisms for it (21:57)

Song: 'In Words,' by Instant Winner (24:48)

Dysphemism, euphemism's evil twin--less pleasant ways of saying things (This idea is clearly explained by Dr. Susanna Cumming of the University of California/Santa Barbara.) (28:12)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 32:28
size: 14.9 Mb

rating: R (Our discussion of sexual euphemisms is pretty frank, especially of John Roberts's press-gaggle gaff.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-11-05.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd are two exhausted teachers--and they talk about words used to talk about weariness (2:12)

Song: 'Carry Me Home,' by Virginia (16:10)

Rude word of the week: 'dragging your ass' (19:26)

Song: 'Weary Rag,' by Earl Oliver, the Walkin' Blues Man (23:03)

More words about weariness (We've just run out of gas...) (26:11)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 30:17
size: 13.9 Mb

rating: PG (Our rude word is ruder than a child should utter, but otherwise we're too tired to be very nasty.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-10-29.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd discuss some of their favorite eponymic expressions--common words taken from proper nouns (1:46)

Song: 'Cellophane,' by Sattelite Hearts (13:56)

Rude word of the week: 'chauvinist' (18:35)

Song: 'Aphrodite's Child,' by Juliet Kelly (21:36)

Eponyms from myth and literature (25:58)

Thanks to emailers and voice-mailers. Ferg from the podcast Air Ferg scooped us on 'playing the dozens.' Chad from Mt. Airy, NC, gives us a couple of North Carolina-isms we left out. (30:55)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 35:03
size: 16.2 Mb

rating: PG (Discussion of the attitudes of male chauvinist pigs.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-10-22.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Howard Chang talks about why we love both online and print books and other resources about words. (1:50)

Dave Shepherd shares some suggestions by listeners for good online word resources. Thanks especially to Frank Jonen for The Devil's Dictionary and Eric Strauss for The Origins of Cliches. (4:36)

Howard Shepherd sings the praises of Bartleby.com. (5:56)

Howard Chang and Dave talk about many of their favorite online sites (7:25):

Song: 'Find the Words,' by Chandler (14:05)

Rude word of the week: 'plagiarist' (18:20)

Song: 'Blue Book,' by Jamen Brooks (21:26)

Howard Chang, Howard Shepherd, and Dave discuss their favorite word books (25:04):

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 36:53
size: 16.9 Mb

rating: G (People of all ages should read word books.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-10-15.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Dave Shepherd shares a joke from Ed Nickow about American monolingualism. (1:56)

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd talk about registers of language and explore the concept of 'vertical' registers. (2:49)

One interesting hierarchy of 'vertical' registers is proposed by Cheryl Carter.

Song: 'Proper English,' by Frontliners (12:11)

Rude word of the week: 'gauche' (15:51)

Song: 'Intimate Strangers,' by Aaron Cheney (19:14)

'Horizontal' registers, jargon, and community argot (22:54)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

time: 29:11
size: 13.2 Mb

rating: G (This podcast is mostly done in a polite register of language.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-10-08.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:33pm EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd talk about words used to describe people who are running away from dreadful situations. (1:51)

Song: 'Home,' by Hawkeye (14:44)

Rude word of the week: 'bum' (20:44)

Music: 'In His Time,' by 21DCO (27:09)

Fear and terror, terrorists and freedom fighters (27:08)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

time: 37:19
size: 17.1 Mb

rating: PG-13 (Howard mentions an alteration of a racial slur.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-10-01.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:28am EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd share some of their favorite bon mots, verbal put-downs and snaps. (Resource for snaps and playing the dozens: Online Magazine) (1:45)

Song: 'Lights Are On But No One's Home,' by The Churchills (15:06)

Rude word of the week: 'dumbass' (19:04)

Song: 'Cuttin' You Down to Size,' by Billy Hatley's Big City Band (23:22)

A few favorite Shakespearean insults (26:58)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 32:53
size: 15.2 Mb

rating: PG (Mildly rude insults; brief sexual reference in The Churchills' song)

Direct download: TWN-2005-09-24.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd explore animal metaphors and American English idioms based on animals. (1:41)

Song: 'Snakes,' by Calyptra, courtesy of GarageBand.com (11:38)

Rude word of the week: 'dog' and other animal-based insults (14:56)

Song: 'Taller Than Dogs,' by Oscar Trim, courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network (19:44)

Fantastic animal metaphors, and ancient roots of animal idioms (22:23)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 30:51
size: 14.1 Mb
NOTE: We will save you all some hard drive space by encoding at 64 kbps and 22.05 kHz from now on. It seems to sound just as good!

rating: PG (Some animal insults are really rude.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-09-17.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:52pm EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd invited their two siblings to talk about the roots of their speech.

Robert Shepherd talks about being the son who stayed close to home. (2:25)

Howard and Dave recall learning English on the North Carolina rural route, and losing a lot of their accents. (5:37)

Song: 'Blue Highway Home,' by Jim Taylor and Friends (19:59)

Rude word of the week: 'hillbilly' (22:37)

Beth Shepherd Bliss reminisces about leaving North Carolina to come to the Philadelphia area. (27:40)

What listeners from around the USA (and Australia) call a carbonated sweet drink and a long sandwich--emails and voicemails (32:00)

Howard recalls Tom Wicker's taking professional advantage of a southern accent. (34:22)

One of our favorite podcasts that features speech of our native region is 5 Minutes With Wichita.

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 37:49
size: 34.7 Mb

rating: G (It's all about family. Our parents might even hear this one! Nothing much rude at all about this podcast.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-09-10.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

Nerds in Europe: Traveling and Language (26) Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd respond to some of the summer's emails. Thanks to Rachael for sending us a copy of Expletive Deleted, by Ruth Wajnryb. (1:50)

Howard and Dave reminisce about their summer travels in Europe and about speaking in other languages than English. (6:29)

Song: 'Summertime,' by Brother Love, courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network (20:20)

Rude word of the week: 'schlock' (23:32)

Song: 'Bad Vacation,' by Rockwell Church, courtesy of GarageBand.com (27:38)

Summer sounds of Vienna, Austria (31:54)

Soundseeing, sightseeing, and being a tourist (32:12)

Albumizing versus scrapbooking. (34:57)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

photos: Howard and Vanessa in Rome; Salzburg by night as photographed by Dave.

time: 38:31
size: 35.4 Mb
rating: PG (Brother Love's song contains a mild profanity. But what can be offensive about a nice trip to Europe?)

Direct download: TWN-2005-09-03.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

The Word Nerds urge you to support relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina through contributions to the American Red Cross or other relief organizations.

time: 1:44
size: 2.5 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-09-01Hurricane.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:11am EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd talk about neologisms that stick around in language. (2:45)

Song: 'Groovy T' by Euphonic (17:36)

Rude word of the week: 'duh' (We include a tribute to Urban Dictionary.) (20:04)

Song: 'Fashion Dog' by One Drop Rule (24:04)

Metaphors that die (27:53)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 33:21
size: 30.6 Mb
rating: PG-13 (brief reference to sex; use of a racial slur as a slang reference)

Direct download: TWN-2005-08-27.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

Howard Chang, Howard Shepherd, and Dave Shepherd talk about filler language and the tyranny of silence. (2:00)

Song: Vocal tic mashup, based on 'Saunter Down Sixth Avenue' by The Pulsars (11:29)

Rude word of the week: 'blabbermouth' (12:17)

Song: 'Gift of Gab [god's gift]' by Doug Evans (16:34)

The discipline of silence; silence as punishment (20:14)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 27:27
size: 25.2 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-08-20.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd talk about the effect of Internet communication on written English. (2:16)

Song: 'Letters to Myself,' by Now Death, courtesy of GarageBand.com (17:36)

Rude word of the week: 'Dear John letter' (22:04)

Song: 'Fairest of the Mall,' by Griddle, courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network (26:33)

What's coming next? How is new technology influencing language change? (29:05)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 34:22
size: 31.6 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-08-13.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

Dave Shepherd, Howard Shepherd, and Howard Chang talk about their pet language peeves. (1:54)

Song: 'You and I Are,' by Laughing Colors (11:12)

Rude word of the week: 'anal retentive' (14:13)

Why we all dislike 'verbing' (18:21)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 25:03
size: 23 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-08-06.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd define and discuss collective and mass nouns. (2:25)

Some cool collective noun links:
World Wide Words Collective Noun Page
British Council Collective Nouns Page
The Collective Noun Page
Paul Vigay's Collective Noun Database

Song:"Crows and Ravens Grouped in Clusters," by The Low Season Combo (WARNING: this song contains a rude word.) (13:59)

Rude word of the week: "philistine" (18:29)

Song: "Gaggle of Titmice," by The Slowly Rubbings (21:53)

Corporate versus individual identity and collective nouns (25:46)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 30:38
size: 28.2 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-07-30.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

(UK title: With the Nerds)

The Bioloquy Show

Dave Shepherd acknowledges several nerdy interlocutors. (2:55)

Howard Chang defines 'bioloquy.' (4:36)

Dave Shepherd's bioloquy (5:38)

Howard Shepherd's bioloquy (10:01)

Howard Chang's bioloquy (14:48)

Song: 'Something to Say,' by Mr. E (20:05)

Rude word of the week: 'dork' (23:53)

What we teach and why (27:06)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 35:43
size: 32.8 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-07-23.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

Dave Shepherd and Howard Chang explore expressions of discomfort, both verbal and nonverbal. (3:20)

Song: 'Comfortably Uncomfortable,' by Everyday Atlas (15:41)

Rude word of the week: 'up shit creek without a paddle' (19:49)

Song: 'Hurt So Good,' by The Yellow Snow Company (22:26)

Expressions of comfort and pleasure (26:53)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 34:26
size: 31.6 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-07-16.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

Dave Shepherd and Annik Rubens talk about using slang in a foreign language, and about English in German advertising. (4:27)

Howard Shepherd and Dave discuss snooty foreignisms, calques, and loan words. (6:48)

Song: 'Babblefish' by Maxwell Strait (16:56)

Rude word of the week: 'shit' and its European cousins (21:02)

Song: 'Lime Ennui,' by Him & the Drinks (24:18)

Loans and calques from English into other languages (28:02)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 32:12
size: 22.1 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-07-09.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd discuss the language of inspiration (2:05)

Song: 'Inspiration,' by Dan Mayer (15:12)

Rude word of the week: 'airhead' (18:35)

Song: 'Who Needs Air?' by Orizon (22:20)

Sports metaphors and inspiration (26:49)

How to overcome writer's block (29:45)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 33:04
size: 22.7 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-07-02.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Dave Shepherd pays tribute to Doug Harper's Online Etymology Dictionary, found at etymonline.com. (2:28)

Howard Shepherd and Dave talk about pronouns without antecedents. (4:55)

Song: 'It's Time,' by Amyssis (12:38)

Rude word of the week: the Unnamed Antecedent (Wanna make something of it?) (16:38)

Song: 'Hearts and Minds,' by Dig Trio (19:35)

Anticipatory pronouns (24:47)

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 29:46
size: 20.6 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-06-25.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd discuss the 'podcast conversation.' (2:21)

Tell us what you call a long sandwich. Call the Nerd Number, 215-543-NERD. (4:30)

The language of determination and seeing things through (5:22)

Song: 'Here and Now,' by Shaheen (14:05)

Rude word of the week: 'balls' (17:07)

Song: 'Find a Way,' by Wiretree (23:01)

Terms of surrender (25:41)

time: 32:15
size: 22.1 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-06-18.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Dave Shepherd introduces the Nerd Number, 215-543-NERD. Leave us a voicemail and tell us how you refer to a soft drink. (2:00)

Dave mentions podictionary, a short daily podcast about words. (2:42)

Dave & Howard Shepherd talk about language from the Cold War. (3:59)

Song; 'Adrenaline,' by Nicolas Johansen (13:27)

Rude word of the week: 'nazi' (19:05)

Song: 'Big Blue Cadillac,' by Kevin Mark (23:00)

Military euphemisms (27:38)

time: 36:13
size: 24.9 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-06-11.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:35am EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd discuss food metaphors in the language of love. (2:07)

Song: 'I Will Love You,' by Fisher (12:07)

Rude word of the week: 'prick' (15:53)

Song: 'Blackheart Blues,' by Melissa Forbes (18:48)

Love and war, love and fire (23:50)

time: 34:12
size: 23.5 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-06-04.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:54pm EDT

Re-introduction of the Three Nerds (2:09)

Feedback on the baseball edition of The Word Nerds (3:20)

DISCLAIMER: This is definitely a 'not-safe-for-work-or-school' podcast. (4:27)

Howard Shepherd and Dave discuss categories of rudeness. (5:05)

Song: 'Planet Blue' by Mike Musgrove (16:15)

Rude Word of the Week: 'f**k' (20:59)

Song: 'The Whole Day Sleeping' by Dark Smile (28:04)

Our favorite rude words (31:31)

time: 35:57
size 24.7 Mb

rating: R (This show frankly discusses the background and roots of some of English's rudest words, but with a largely academic approach.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-05-28.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:56pm EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd discuss 'gay' as a pejorative and as a cultural identifier. (1:41)

Song: 'Bring the Devil,' by The Jane Doe's (14:25)

Rude word of the week: 'faggot' (17:57)

Song: 'I'm Over It,' by Suzanne Smith (21:57)

The homophobic penumbra: the re-purposing of neutral words as homosexual labels (25:41)

Time: 31:17
Size: 21.5 Mb

Rating: R (This week's show talks about hurtful speech, and cites a couple of obscene epithets as examples.)

Direct download: TWN-2005-05-21.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:54am EDT

Baseball in Asheville, Washington, and American English Dave enthusiastically recommends Annik Rubens' podcast Schlaflos in München to podcast fans who speak German. (2:14)

Dave explains baseball to people who don't know the game (or tries to). (3:00)

Howard Shepherd, Jim Taylor, and Luke Taylor see an Asheville Tourists game at McCormick Field. (9:00)

Dave explores the word 'southpaw.' (13:44)

Dave Shepherd and Mark Holm go to their first Washington Nationals game at RFK Stadium. (18:18)

Dave discusses some examples of baseball language in American English. (22:20)

Dave waits out a rain delay at RFK; he buys peanuts but does not buy a Nationals jacket. (25:05)

Statistics and baseball (40:16)

Music:
'Carolina Dreams,' by Heroes and Villains (14:32)

(Photo by Mark Holm)

time: 44:04
size: 30.2 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-05-14.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:01pm EDT


Dave Shepherd and Howard Chang discuss quotations from movies and their resonance in popular language. (1:39)

The meaning of 'film noir' and its echoes. (9:45)

Dave and Dreadful Snake Guy discuss the Podshow initiative and its meaning for mid-level podcasters. (14:43)

Rude word of the week: 'bomb' (19:36)

Washington obfuscation: Undersecretary of Defense Stephen Cambone testifies unclearly before the Senate Armed Services Committee. (24:55)

Different names for motion pictures (26:57)

Music:
'Film Noir,' by Venus Throw (9:45)
'70s Movies,' by Father Festus (22:01)

time: 31:53
size: 29.2 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-05-07.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:57am EDT

Two faithful and helpful listeners have corrected me (Dave) on a mistake of which I was aware as soon as I uploaded the last podcast.

The acronym LASER stands for light amplification through STIMULATED emission of radiation, not simulated. The emission is absolutely, totally real, not fake at all.

Well, I was de-acronymizing (??) right off the top of my head. Got most of it right, at least!

Oh, also, one of those faithful listeners pointed us to a Wikipedia article that explains the concept of aggregators very clearly (although we think our interviewee, Julie, did a pretty good job in the podcast, actually).

Category:general -- posted at: 5:18pm EDT


Dave responds to a query from Dreadful Snake Radio about the word 'grim.' (1:40)

Dave and Howard Shepherd talk about technological neologisms such as 'iPod' and 'firmware.' (5:00)

Rude word of the week: 'crap' (15:40)

Howard and Dave share some favorite abbreviations and obfuscatory acronyms. (23:40)

Music:
'Boom Boom,' by Loren Schulte (12:16)
'How I Feel Around You,' by Violaine (20:07)

time: 29:59
size: 27.5 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-04-30.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:38am EDT

Howard Chang and Dave Shepherd discuss the power of names, nicknames, and pet names. (1:33)

Rude word of the week: 'no-name' (17:15)

Howard Shepherd talks about names and religion, naming in Shakespeare, and patronymics. (23:23)

Howard C. and Dave talk about parents naming children. (27:15)

Music:
'Morse Co-Ed,' by Flip City (12:08)
'Orphan,' by Loni Rose (19:24)

time: 30:57
size: 28.3 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2005-04-23.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:51pm EDT

Musings from Howard Shepherd (North Carolina Nerd):

So I'm lying on my bed (in the historical present tense), resting and listening to the most recent Word Nerds podcast, and my mind starts wandering. I start thinking about revolutions in communication--from the invention of the alphabet and the development of writing, to the printing press, to the development of mass media such as radio and TV, and then to the internet.

And finally, to podcasting.

And that's when a word crosses my mind: 'samizdat.' I found myself remembering my summer of 1987 at Princeton, when I did an NEH seminar with John Fleming, then English department chairman. John Fleming had a hand-operated printing press in his house, and he and his wife had a little cottage industry. In a time when small publishers were consolidating willy-nilly, John represented an important movement in publishing: a trend toward very specialized, focused, small-scale publishing.

I realized that at a time of great electronic media consolidation (analogous to the print media consolidation of the 1980's), podcasting is filling the same kind of niche. We podcasters are an example of self-publishers that keep the world of ideas vibrant.

In other words, we are engaged in samizdat--a great Russian contraction from 'samo' (self) and 'izdatyel' (publishing).

Anyway, I thought the word 'samizdat' was both á propos and interesting, and I thought I'd pass it on.

Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EDT

(From now on, the time position of segments within the podcast will be indicated in the shownotes.)

Dave explains Podcast Alley voting (1:34).

Favorite Washington obfuscation of the week: Investigation of Department of Education's paying a commentator to sell administration policy (4:35).

Dave discusses Geoff Nunberg's book, The Way We Talk Now (15:02).

Music: 'Precious Time,' by Chip Greene (10:45).

Time: 20:37
Size: 18.9 Mb
Direct download: TWN-2005-04-16.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:39pm EDT

Dave and Howard Chang discuss some English (and German and Latin) words that seem to be inherently sexist.

Dave went to the theatre on Sunday, and he and Howard discuss Shakespeare's The Tempest and what it says about language and humanity.

Rude word of the week: 'bitch'

Music:
'Sweet Sugar Mama,' by Kevin Mark
'Thinking You Over,' by Melissa Forbes

Time: 28:49
Size: 26.4 Mb
Direct download: TWN-2005-04-11.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:23pm EDT

Dave talks about podcasting, does a meta-explication of both this podcast and the words 'explication' and 'explanation,' and plays the theme song in its entirety. The cherry trees are in bloom in Washington, DC.

Music: 'Blow Me' by Kick the Cat

Time: 17:21
Size: 15.8 Mb
Direct download: TWN-2005-04-09.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:23pm EDT

In the last podcast, I neglected to mention (because of the timing of recording) that it was Victoria who clued me in on the term 'lost positives.' She also pointed me to a 51-year-old article in Time that talked about the same thing. I don't feel so bad about overlooking this concept, even with a graduate minor in linguistics from Vanderbilt, if one has to reach back 51 years to find a popular-journalism reference to this idea! Dave
Category:general -- posted at: 1:11pm EDT

Dave explains podcasting to the non-podcasting-initiated.

Howard S. and Dave explore several lost positives.

An extremely cool song is played.

Rude word of the week: 'schmuck'

Dave muses on the function of slang.

Music: 'Blue Bird Tattoo' by Circe Link

time: 28:11
size: 25.8 Mb
Direct download: TWN-4-3-2005.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:05pm EDT

Dave introduces himself and The Word Nerds.

The show is rated PG-13, but will sometimes be R, because it is about the actual language people speak.

The word 'nerd' is explicated in a hopefully not-too-nerdy way. 'Geek' is geekily explained, and 'dweeb' is glanced at as only a dweeb could do.

Rude word of the week: suck.

Music: 'Mistakable Mr. Smith' by Ten Story Relapse (Note: contrary to what is said in the 'cast, Ten Story Relapse DOES have a CD for sale on their website. Check it out!)

'Blow Me' by Kick the Cat
time: 28:45
size: 26.3 Mb
Direct download: TWN-2005-03-27.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:30pm EDT

(This is the second time this podcast was posted. It has a new file name, and improved ID3 tag. Hopefully it can be downloaded as a new podcast.)

Dave muses about the concept of the Word Nerds podcast; Howard S. loses his iPod and takes it as an opportunity; the trio of Word Nerds (Dave S., Howard S., Howard C.) is introduced; and Dave thinks about what it means to be not only overwhelmed, but also whelmed.

time: 5:19
size: 5 Mb
Direct download: TWN-2005-03-20a.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:53pm EDT

Welcome to The Word Nerds!

Dave Shepherd introduces the three Word Nerds: Dave, Howard Shepherd, and Howard Chang. The Nerds explore everyday use of the English language and language change.

Every week the podcast features a Rude Word of the Week, and it showcases new music by independent artists. Usually about a half-hour, usually uploaded by Sunday midnight. Website: thewordnerds.org.

Direct download: TWN-2005-01-Intro.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:03am EDT