Issue 2, Season 2

February 28, 2015• Schwa Fire

In this issue: Award-winning author Sallie Tisdale (author of "Talk Dirty to Me") on Luganda, a language she's encountered as a medical volunteer in Uganda ("Push a Lizard into the Grass"). Why do girls speak secret languages? Bogotá-based freelancer Jessica Weiss -- who spoke gibberish as a girl -- investigates ("The Secret Linguistic Life of Girls"). Economist writer Robert Lane Greene goes beyond his descriptivist comfort zone as a new member of the American Heritage Dictionary's usage panel ("Becoming a Grammar Jedi").

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Push a Lizard into the Grass

Histories of Uganda usually ignore the language of Luganda, but Writer Sallie Tisdale has noticed. She's been traveling there for years as a medical volunteer, where the language and its speakers both attract and baffle her. "I am always happy to be here — I am happy here," she writes. "Making me go to Uganda would be, for me, Kusindika munnya mu ssubi — 'to push a lizard into the grass.' That is, to make me do something that I want to do anyway."  (You can read this in 16 minutes.) 


The Secret Linguistic Life of Girls

Why are girls so drawn to language games and secret languages, like gibberish, Ubbi Dubbi, oppish, LF, jerigonza, and zargari? Jessica Weiss spoke to women around the world to puzzle out an answer. (This will take you 10 minutes to read.) 

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