Rebecca Kruth

Rebecca Kruth is a reporter interning with Aspen Public Radio over the summer of 2013. Originally from Eaton Rapids, Michigan, Rebecca is thrilled to be spending her summer making radio in the mountains. Though she's always been a public radio fan, Rebecca explored several other career paths including teaching high school English before making her way to the airwaves. During her graduate studies at Michigan State University, Rebecca decided radio was where she needed to be and squeezed some journalism courses into her American Studies degree program. After graduation, she snagged internships on the news desk at WKAR, East Lansing and the arts and culture desk at WBEZ, Chicago. When she's not chasing stories, Rebecca enjoys cycling, photography, listening to This American Life and wandering around the country with her husband, James.


It appears that as of today, there isn't much concern about the phrase "as of."


Perhaps that's because it's such a simple phrase. Two words, two letters each, nothing flashy.


But this is That's What They Say, and when Michigan Radio's chief engineer Bob Skon asked us about the distinction between the phrases "as of today" and "as from today," we had to check it out.


Recently, English Professor Anne Curzan was giving a talk in Washington about reduplication. In reduplication, a form is repeated in a straightforward way, like "no-no" or "boo-boo," or with a vowel change like "flip-flop" or "mish-mash."

During Curzan's talk, someone in the audience raised their hand and said, "You keep using the word 'reduplication.' Isn't that redundant? Why don't you just say 'duplication'?"

Fair question.

Talking about the weather can be about so much more than sunny days and stormy nights.

Last week, we talked about the subtle routines we follow when opening and closing a conversation.

This week, we decided to look at the interesting roles weather can play in those routines.

Even when it comes to the most interesting conversations, there's usually a routine to how they start and how they end.

Think of how your conversations usually start. Generally, you don't just walk up to someone or call them on the phone and immediately start talking about something specific.

You usually say something like "hello" or "hey" or "what's up?" to get things going. Sometimes you might even make your opener a question like, "Hi, how are you?"

Among the many odd things about standard varieties of English is the “s” at the end of “knocks” as in “She knocks on the door.”

If you were to change “she” to “I,” “you,” “we,” or “they,” the “s” would go away, and “knocks” would become “knock.” Why does third person singular tense get an "s" tacked on the end? 

If your life is in shambles, you probably have bigger things to worry about than grammar.

This week's topic comes from a listener who wanted to know the origin of "in shambles."

Soon after we received this question, a co-worker told us she was surprised to learn this phrase, used to refer to a mess or state of disorder, was originally "a shambles."

A few weeks ago on Reddit, someone posted a clip from the Ellen Degeneres Show. The guest was Candice Payne, the Chicago woman who rented hotel rooms for homeless people during last month’s polar vortex.

The post’s headline was, “Ellen gifts $50k to Candice Payne, Chicago woman who help over 122 homeless people during brutal cold winter last week.”

In the comments below the post, one user asked the question, “When did ‘give,’ the verb, give way to ‘gift,’ the noun, becoming the verb?

On behalf of a listener, this week we're raising the question of whether we can speak on behalf of ourselves.

Often at weddings, funerals and other gatherings, there's a moment when someone stands up and says something like, "On behalf of my family and myself, I want to thank you for coming today."

A listener named Suzanne wants to know whether "and myself" is necessary in this expression. She says, "You don't speak on your behalf. You are speaking."

The words and phrases that pop culture inserts into our everyday language never cease to amaze us here at That's What They Say.

A listener recently wrote to use about one in particular. Laurel wanted to know what we think about "nado" as in the movie "Sharknado."

Last week, we talked about how easy it can be to misinterpret an idiom, especially when a key word sounds very similar to another word.

Before we go any further, look at the following sentence and fill in the blank with the first word that comes to mind:

"Let me tell you, if you think that, you've got another ____ coming."

There's a set of questions that we as speakers use regularly and that we may not realize have their own special name. They're called tag questions, and they're everywhere.

You probably don't know what a tag question is, do you? You want to learn about tag questions, don’t you? That's probably why you're reading this column, isn't it?

By now you've probably figured out what a tag question is, right?

Sometimes we like to ask people what a particular word or phrase means to them. Sometimes when we do that, we get several completely different answers.

Take “out-of-pocket,” for example.

Part of downtown Detroit is under a boil water advisory following a water main break.

The Great Lakes Water Authority and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department responded to a 42-inch break around 11 pm Saturday night.

It's jarring when you discover that a seemingly harmless everyday word or phrase has an offensive origin story.

The Oxford Dictionary's blog has a list of nine words with offensive origins. You probably already know about a few of these, but others such as "no can do" and "long time no see" may come as a surprise.

One that caught our eye is "basket case."

The first citation of "basket case" in the Oxford English Dictionary is in 1919, soon after the end of World War I. It came from rumors about soldiers who had lost all of their limbs and had to be transported in a basket. 

If you think about the verb “dive” too hard, it can shake your confidence that you know which past tense to use.  

Let’s say you’re telling someone about a diving competition you participated in yesterday. Do you tell them you dived yesterday, or do you tell them you dove?

Not all verbs cause this sort of confusion.

Regular verbs like “play” have the same past tense and past participle – I play, I played, I have played. Irregular verbs like “drive” are a little trickier – I drive, I drove, I have driven.

For much of its life, “dive” was a regular verb – dive/dived/dived. But in the modern era, we English speakers created an irregular past tense – dove.

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