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

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March 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 revisits a couple of blend-word examples we overlooked last week: "celebutante" and "ruinion." (Thanks to Hillary Israeli.) (1:56)

Dave and Howard Shepherd discuss the challenges of trying to remain non-commercial for one year. Our anniversary was the day we recorded this show, March 21, 2006. (2:56)

Dave and Howard explore the realm of invented languages--languages artificially constructed for specific purposes. (Thanks to Kevin Thomas and Alexandre Enkerli for the topic suggestion.) (4:34)

Language that limits:

  • Parental code (8:24)
  • The created sub-languages of childhood (9:44)
  • Pig Latin (10:33)
  • Javanais (11:44)
  • Verlan (12:16)
Music bumper from "Telepop" by The Jerrys (13:26)


  • Morse code, building codes, speech codes and double-talk (14:59)
  • Cryptology, shortwave number-code stations (16:28)
  • The Navajo "Code-Talkers" from World War II (18:03)
Song: 'Code' by Brooks Newton (18:39)

Rude word of the week: "Donald Trump" (an example of Cockney rhyming slang, based on the name of the famous American tycoon and television reality-show star) (23:42)

Music bumper from "Trifle 3" by Fuzzy Logic (25:02)

Language that expands:

  • Fantasy languages: Elvish, Klingon (25:56)
  • Esperanto (27:05)
  • E-Prime (29:48)
Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network and

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 33:14
size: 22.9 Mb

rating: PG (Our Rude Word alludes to a mildly rude word for defecation.)

Categories: ,

Direct download: TWN-2006-03-25.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:54am EDT

Dave Shepherd and Howard Chang respond to voicemail from Paul of The PK and J Show, who has a word-usage question about 'beside' and 'besides.' (1:53)

Dave and Howard discuss the formation of blend words, popularly known as 'portmanteau words,' and their effect on language change. (5:06)

What are 'good' (effective) and 'bad' (non-effective) blends? (8:20)

Music bumper from by 'Stitch Together' by Adam Boucher (14:39)

Blends that promote convenience and utility of of speech (15:05)

Clips and clip-blends (21:33)

Song: 'Brunching Britney and the Homeboy,' by PC Muñoz (24:40)

Blend words from advertising and marketing (29:00)

Rude word of the week: 'shart' (31:11)

Music bumper from 'Court of Greedy Kings' by Val Davis (32:46)

Whimsical blends and awkward, forced blends (33:03)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing music from 'Grapes' by Evan Stone

time: 38:11
size: 26.3 Mb

rating: PG (We manage to define our Rude Word without being rude at all.)

Categories: ,

Direct download: TWN-2006-03-18.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:21pm EDT

Dave Shepherd and Howard Shepherd respond to voicemail from Art in Vermont about a 'computer-generated' mondegreen. (1:53)

Dave and Howard explore the '-nym' words of linguistics: terms used to categorize types of words. Our title this week is based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There is great footage of an interview with the Pythons, just before the American release of Holy Grail, on The Sound of Young America. (3:12)

  • Homonyms (both homophones and homographs) (4:36)
Music bumper from 'Trifle 3' by Fuzzy Logic (10:28)

  • Synonyms (10:58)
  • Antonyms (14:10)
  • Contronyms, also known as auto-antonyms (16:19)
Song: 'Homonym' by Foolish Fortune (18:30)

Rude word of the week: 'snafu' (an acronym) (23:03)

Music bumper from 'Baja Taxi' by Brain Buckit (26:26)

A request by Annik Rubens for votes at Help select a recognizable badge or logo for podcast listeners. (27:01)

  • Retronyms: a flash from the past (27:40)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network and

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 34:54
size: 23.9 Mb

rating: R (Our Rude Word segment contains the 'F-bomb' several times. We also talk about Woody's World of Penis Euphemisms in our Synonyms segment.)

Categories: ,

Direct download: TWN-2006-03-11.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:27am EDT

Dave Shepherd and Howard Chang explore the language of the locker-room, the emerging way young people talk about each other as sexual beings. (1:55)

Song: 'There She Goes' by Brother Love (15:39)

'What's your sign?' and other pickup lines (20:21)

Rude word of the week: 'one-night stand' (26:02)

Song 'Tonight,' by Zach Ashton (27:47)

Flirtation: kinder, gentler, more sincere than pickup lines? (31:28)

Flirtation and the performance of close-up magic (33:22)

Please share with us your experiences with pickup lines and flirtation. (35:57)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

Closing music from 'Grapes' by Evan Stone

time: 38:23
size: 26.3 Mb

rating: R (We discuss the way adolescents and adults talk about sex.)

Categories: , ,

Direct download: TWN-2006-03-04.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:10am EDT