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A few weeks ago I started a regular feature on the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley called LinguaFile, in which I present the hosts with a word and have them try to guess its origins. Last time it was discombobulate
, and for this week's episode I went with another one of my favorite words, lagniappe
, meaning "a bonus gift (as given to a customer from a merchant)."
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We have another Euphemism of the Year candidate—and perhaps an entirely new category. In reference to her impending divorce, singer Jewel called the event a tender undoing
, apparently seeking to create a more gibberish-soaked term than conscious uncoupling
, which Gwyneth Paltrow famously used to describe her own divorce.
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A peculiar feature of some adjectives ending in -y
is their ability to take on a semantic life of their own, separate from the meaning of their root. A handful of food-based adjectives fit this pattern, in which an English learner would be at a great disadvantage in thinking that the adjective's meaning might be composable from its parts. Think of corny
, and cheesy
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Adding to our collection of Beatles linguistic analysis (we've written about the iconic band's pronouns, nonsense sounds, and gear language) and in a manner reminiscent of recent analysis of rappers' vocabularies, the Liverpool Echo has conducted a vocabulary survey of British pop music, and concluded that the Beatles "have one of the smallest vocabularies in pop music."