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 why we have a new Nerd Number (206-600-NERD). For the next couple weeks you'll hear two different numbers mentioned in alternating shows, since we pre-recorded several shows before switching phone numbers. (1:52)

Dave Shepherd and Howard Chang talk about the weather without doing anything about it. (This is a reference to a quote from Mark Twain.) (2:16)

Song: 'Rainfall,' by Hungry Lucy (7:28)

Weather metaphors (11:20)

Dave talks about the play Alle Wetter (Thunderation) by Erich Mühsam (18:45)

Music bumper from 'Necessary Rain' by Emile Westergaard (20:29)

Rude word of the week: 'fair-weather friend' (21:01)

Song: 'Pray for Rain,' by Allison Crowe (23:36)

Ways of describing the weather (27:55)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 34:55
size: 16 Mb

rating: G (Schoolchildren everywhere are waiting for snow--or even wintry mix.)

Categories: , , ,

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-28.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:49am EDT

Dave Shepherd and Howard Shepherd get a buzz out of talking about onomatopoeia. (Did I spell that right?) (1:52)

Song: 'Crash Bang Boom!' by Ellen Rosner (5:48)

Animal sounds around the world (source: Sounds of the World's Animals website) (8:07)

Music bumper from 'Small Thuds in the Night' by Happy Ashtray (12:22)

Rude word of the week: the Bronx cheer (which we can't really spell out) (13:05)

Song: 'The Buzz is Over,' by Macle (15:05)

Other examples of 'word music' (18:54)

  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Consonance
  • Rhyme
  • Phonetic intensives

Howard reads 'Meeting at Night,' by Robert Browning (21:48)

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 24:47
size: 11.4 Mb

rating: G (Onomatopoeia is really a kid's thing. We say 'fart' in our Rude Word segment, but that's as rude as it gets.)

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-21.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:38pm EDT

A short plea for help, suggestions, support for the Online Etymology Dictionary, maintained as a labor of love by Douglas Harper, and falling victim to its own success.

time: 2:27
size: 2.3 Mb

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-16.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:27pm EDT

Dave Shepherd, Howard Shepherd, and Howard Chang share some of their favorite words--words that Word Nerds would like. (1:57)

Words whose sounds we like (2:57)

  • wlonk
  • humuhumunukunukuapua'a
  • aglet
'SAT words'--words every smart high school student should know. (6:53)
  • indefatigable
  • benevolent
  • malevolent
Song: 'Certain Words in Uncertain Times,' by This Providence (8:45)

Words whose etymologies interest us (11:56)

  • helicopter
  • dactyl
Music bumper from 'The Helicopter' by Boblex (13:47)

Rude word of the week: 'sycophant' (14:22)

Song: 'Favorite Song,' by Tony Rodd (17:27)

Just some more cool words we like (21:29)

  • apheresis/aphæresis
  • time
  • anthropomorphic
Please share your favorite words with us here on the website, in the comments section. Or leave a voicemail on our new and improved Nerd Number, 206-600-NERD (206-600-6373).

Music courtesy of GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 27:52
size: Mb

rating: PG (The Rude Word segment has a couple fairly rude synonyms for 'sycophant.')

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-14.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:54am EDT

Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd introduce a voicemail from Jeff in Houston, Texas, on the infrequency of Christmas (1:56)

Howard and Dave make a conceptual leap by exploring metaphor and metonymy. (3:25)

Song: 'Similar,' by Erich Specht (11:34)

Promo for Will and Iris (14:49)

The development of metaphor in linguistic maturity (15:13)

Music bumper from 'Like Shine' by Likeshine (17:17)

Rude word of the week: 'asshole' (17:43)

Song: 'Like Tears in Rain,' by P.W. Fenton and The Second Ward (19:45)

Visual metonymy and metonymic gesture in film (22:55)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network and GarageBand.com

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 28:17
size: 13 Mb

rating: PG-13 (Our Rude Word is one you wouldn't say to your mother, really.)

Direct download: TWN-2006-01-07.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:04am EDT