Words at Work

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Playing with Words

March 1st, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Words can be amazing.

Words can astonish and amaze.

Have you ever heard of the word flychter? What is a dipthong? These are just two of the words you would know more about if you listened to “Says You!” on National Public Radio.

This show is great fun for anyone interested in words. Each week two teams of three experts–who are funny as well as knowledgeable–test their wits on a series of games about words. Last week’s program featured aviation jargon, words used in phonetics, and “what comes next?” a game in which contestants had to figure out the next in a series of words from more or less obscure sources. Other categories may concern the meaning and derivation of words, distinguishing between words whose meanings are similar but not identical, or decoding some wicked puns.

Every week the contestants must figure out the meanings of two particular words. I don’t know how they find these words, but let’s just say that most people have never heard of them. One team has a few minutes during which two team members make up a meaning for the word. The third team member has been given the correct meaning. Then the second team tries to guess which is the real definition. Last week’s words were flychter and roo. It turns out that flychter means “to run with outstretched arms, as a child” and roo means “to pluck wool.” The last was controversial because nearly everyone has heard that word used to denote a kangaroo. Too easy, folks!

Here in the Bay Area “Says You!” airs at 4 p.m. on Sundays on KQED radio. I highly recommend it to get into a writing frame of mind and have some fun at the same time.


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