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

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

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Unless otherwise specifically attributed, all original work in this site and feed (including all audio files, web pages, and images) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Dave Shepherd and Howard Shepherd play a voicemail response to Howard's recent rap of Beowulf. (2:29)

Howard and Dave discuss speech flubs: malapropisms, spoonerisms, mondegreens, and shibboleths. (Mondegreens are celebrated by Amanda, the Bean of Me and the Bean.) (3:45)

Music bumper from 'Jona Lee' by Roomful of Blues (17:18)

Spoonerisms--funny sound transpositions (17:37)

Song: 'Fairest of the Mall' by Griddle (19:27)

Rude word of the week: 'bass-ackwards' (21:57)

Music bumper from 'Tonight,' by Zach Ashton (24:01)

Shibboleths--'pronunciation passwords' (24:30)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 31:43
size: 21.8 Mb

rating: PG (Nothing much ruder than our Rude Word this week--but you wouldn't want your six-year-old to talk like this, probably.)

Categories: ,

Direct download: TWN-2006-02-25.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:10am EDT

The History of Our Podcast (50) Dave Shepherd, Howard Chang, and Howard Shepherd look back on how this podcast got started. (Warning: navel-gazing alert!) (2:09)

We give a glimpse behind the scenes: how we prepare a show during our 'Nerd Nosh.' (12:36)

Music bumper from 'History Repeats' by Jay Snyder (14:20)

Our worldwide audience and their nerdy interests (14:44)

How we do it: our technical setup, and our usual work-plan for a show (16:50)

We do it for free? Well, yes, but... We would accept your donations, and we might even take a sponsor sometime. (24:06)

Music bumper from 'Lost in History' by Real Smash (25:58)

Rude word of the week: 'sellout' (26:24)

Song: 'Repeat History,' by Jeremy Robinson (28:08)

Where are we going? Our musings about this show's future (30:56)

(We promise we will get back to talking about words next week, honest!)

Music courtesy of

Time: 36:33
Size: 25.1 Mb

Photo of the Word Nerds in the studio by Barbara Shepherd

Rating: PG (Never really rude; a couple of off-hand mild vulgarities)

Categories: , ,

Direct download: TWN-2006-02-18.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:31am EDT

Dave Shepherd plays the first feedback we've received on the new Nerd Number, about our show on onomotapoeia (2:45)

Dave and Howard Chang explore words and metaphors describing systems of governance and polity. Each of them reads a poem about the ship of state. (4:01)

Music bumper from 'Court of Greedy Kings,' by Val Davis (10:02)

Governance, the governator, and other words about those who govern (10:17)

Song: 'Peace Wins the Election' by Maria Daines (19:38)

Rude word of the week: 'tyrant' (23:15)

Music bumper from 'Necessary Rain,' by Emile Westergaard (29:02)

Forms of government and words to describe them (29:34)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing music from 'Grapes' by Evan Stone.

time: 35:47
size: 16.4 Mb

rating: G (We hope people of all ages will learn about their government, wherever they are.)

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Direct download: TWN-2006-02-11.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:19pm EDT

Dave Shepherd and Howard Shepherd talk about rhythm and the significance of language cadence. (1:58)

Rhythm in the 'frozen register' (a term we picked up from Prof. Cheryl Carter) (3:33)

Song: 'Rhythm Hymn,' by The Franks (9:44)

Rhythm as a mnemonic device. We recall 'A Prayer of St. Chrysotom,' not having heard it in over 20 years. (14:51)

Music bumper from 'Move to my Beat' by Cool Cluster (17:27)

Rude word of the week: 'stumblebum' (18:04)

Song: 'Back Beat Rhythm,' by Los Blancos (20:38)

Rhythm as a social skill. Howard gangsta-raps the introduction to Beowulf (24:52)

Music courtesy of

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 28:48
size: 13.2 Mb

rating: PG (Oops! We just discovered that our first song has a rude word for 'poop' in it--twice! Otherwise this is an innocuous show this week.)

Categories: ,

Direct download: TWN-2006-02-04.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:51am EDT