Kathryn Petras & Ross Petras

What’s New

from the Confusables Department: affect vs effect — the right way to use these two commonly confused words

 
Cranberry Morphemes Let’s talk cranberries! As in … is there such a thing as a “cran”? A listener asked us about the cran in cranberry which led us to talk about a linguistic thingie called “cranberry morphemes” — those chunks of words (like cran) that only exist in that one word. But it gets a little more complicated than that … 
 
Final Exams How well can YOU do on a grab bag of language questions on subjects we’ve covered this year — from how do you pronounce geoduck to what was the initial meaning of “cute” to is saying “my wife and I’s dinner” correct or incorrect? Can you ace the You’re Saying It Wrong final exam?
 
The Defining Words of the Spelling Bee This week, we’re looking back on the amazing end of the 2024 Scripps Spelling Bee and testing ourselves … but not can we spell the words (we cannot), but can we figure out what the heck they mean? A little Latin here, a smidge of logic, perhaps some Greek and some fancy guesswork and … well, it’s tough! Can YOU figure them out?!? And … remember to ask your local NPR station to pick us up! Not in THAT way, but in the on air way, thankyouverymuch!!
 
The Oldest of Old Words We’re talking the oldest — and we mean waaay back to prehistoric times on the steppes — words that we STILL use in English. (Hint for one: What do you like on your bagel with a schmear?)
 
Smooshed-up Words We’re looking at words that were made by smooshing together other words … but that was a looong time ago, so we don’t realize it any more. Like daisy, or good bye. Can YOU figure out the original words? 
 
The Rheturn of Rhetoric  Some Monty Python, a smidge of Will Shakes, Groucho, and , of course, Iron.Man. (Well, duh.) Yup, all of them — and you too! — are using fancy tricks from ancient Greece. Can YOU figure them out?!?
 
Ye Olde Fossil Words It’s time to dig up some fossil words—words that don’t really exist any more except in certain phrases, like “kith” as in “…and kin”), or “shebang” (as in “the whole …) What did they mean? And what’s with the “ye” in all those “ye olde” signs?
 
If I Were To Talk About The Subjunctive… Were? Or was? Arrgh!! This week it’s time to tackle that pesky mood (yup, mood!) we call the subjunctive. From be that as it may to bless you to so be it … those frickin’ subjunctives are all around us!
 
We are all rhetoricians now Move over, Cicero! Most of us are using rhetorical devices regularly … and might not even know it. This week, that’s what we’re talking about — along with some help from everyone from Churchill to Tolkein, from Shakespeare to Yoda!
 
These Names Have Snob Appeal From Byron’s Don Juan to W.E.B. Dubois to Diane Arbus … names you might not know how to pronounce even though you THINK you do!
 
Shakespeare: He made up a lot of words It’s said that Shakespeare invented or introduced over 1,700 words to the English language, but can you figure out WHICH ones? Yup, it’s the Very Big Shakespeare Quiz on this week’s episode of YSIW!. And now, once more unto the breach, as Will also wrote!
 
Big News! You’re Saying It Wrong is now more than just a podcast; it’s now a weekly public radio show. Let your local NPR station know you’d like them to pick it up!
 
British-isms Pip pip and all that rot! It’s time for a look at the American love affair with sounding British … or TRYING to, that is. So put down that bumbershoot and pop in for a listen! 
 
The Good Kind of Stress It’s time to get stressed out! This week, we’re talking sentence stress: how we use emphasis on specific words to get our meaning across … and how changing that stress changes the entire meaning. (We get SEVEN different meanings from the exact same sentence. Pretty wild!)
 
Return of the Confusables It’s time to flaunt the rules! Incredulous as it may sound, we’ve planned a truly climatic episode of You’re Saying It Wrong this week. In case you haven’t guessed yet– but you seem VERY intelligent, so we’re sure you did — we’re talking one of our fave subjects — Confusables, those words that sound a lot like other words but have totally different meanings. 
 
Weird Word Origins ot off the presses … or, rather, radio waves! This week’s newest espisode — words that SOUND like they’re related to other words, but actually aren’t. Except sometimes they are …  e’re talking words like shamefaced, checkmate and, everyone’s fave vomitorium! Where’d they come from anyway, huh?!?
 
Pretending to be properWe look at some “rules” of the language that were mostly just made up so people could feel like they were speaking proper English.
 
Sticky, tricky grammar moments Quick — right or wrong? “I feel bad about that.” Or do you feel badly? “The fish made me nauseous.” Or … nauseated? While we’re at it, can you feel abject joy? Is something momentous historical or historic? We could go on about these niggling grammar questions — and we do, on this week’s episode of You’re Saying It Wrong! 
Psilence! It’s the Attack of the Extra (silent) Letter. In this week’s show, we look at words that aren’t pronounced like they’re spelled—from colonel to solemn to comptroller —and talk about why the baffling spelling exists in the first place.
 
The Latin Craze We dig into why certain words are spelled ridiculously thanks to a bunch of scholars a few hundred years ago who got a little too nutso about making everything look Latin.
 
Sneaky rules we don’t know we follow Why do you say “your friend’s car” instead of “the car of your friend”? Why do you say an artist paints “still lifes” instead of “still lives” or un-freakin-believable” instead of”un-be-freakin-lievable”? It’s all due to those sneaky rules of English!
 
Hyperforeignisms and other times we just get too excited  A discussion about words that have been imported into English from other languages—from foyer to forte to coup de grace—and how we sometimes go a little nutso trying to make them sound as “correct” as possible (and fail).
 
Doublespeak! The unconscious ways we follow the rules of English by doubling sounds and words, and how meanings of words can change when we say them twice. Now: are you confused? Or are you confused confused?
 
 
 
The twisted world of bureaucracy  Having tried to wrap our heads around the world of academic language, we now take a stab at trying to untangle the meaning of phrases bureaucracies and corporations produce as they try to sound
 
Penguin-Random House This Is the Author Podcast  We talk about recording the audio books of You’re Saying it Wrong, That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means, and Awkword Moments