What is this thing?

English has a lot of words. Over a million by some counts. Which means that all of us English speakers are encountering new words all the time. It might be a new piece of slang, or something imported from another language or culture, or it might just be an old word we just haven’t heard before. But no matter where the word comes from, it’s worth taking the time to make sure we know what it means and how we can use it.

And that’s what we’re doing in Learned Volume 5: Say It Again, But Slowly. We’re taking a look at some of the new words popping up in the public discourse and discussing just what they mean, their nuances, and their inevitable implications. Consider joining us. It’ll be interesting, I promise.

And why a newsletter?

I used to be a blogger but I was looking for something a little more structured than a standard blog post. I had heard (and subscribed to) several newsletters and really liked the idea of starting my own. I put it off until I came up with a concept I thought would work, and that concept eventually became Learned.

Also, I enjoy getting on the ground floor of things. And when I see a nicely put-together package like Substack, I want to participate. Substack offers an easy way to put out a newsletter and website without a whole lot of effort on my part, which means I can spend more time writing and less time worrying about coding and formatting.

Sounds good. So, who are you again?

I'm Joel. I'm a writer, photographer, and teacher. Nice to meet you.

I like this thing. How can I support it?

First, thank you so much. Second, there are a few ways to support the newsletter (and me, by extension):

1. Subscribe!

Subscribing is the best and easiest way to help out. There are two kinds of subscriptions - free and paid. Both levels receive the newsletter once a week, but paid subscribers are able to leave comments on the website. They will also be able to participate in forums and discussion boards when they go live (someday.)

The paid subscription is $5 a month or you can get the entire year for only $30.

2. Coffee!

If you're not up for subscribing or buying a book, but still want to send a little bit of money my way, use the Kofi link in the "Elsewhere" section and this will let you make a small, one-time donation of however much you want to give.

3. Share!

Give a gift subscription

If you're not into sending money or clicking links, the biggest thing you can do to support the newsletter is to share it on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or wherever else you post stuff. You can also forward the letter to friends or family from your inbox.

Regardless of whether you subscribe, donate, click, or share, I appreciate your interest and support. Thank you!

Give me some more examples?

Sure. Here are a few of my favorite issues so far:

But, for more in-depth reading, you can go through the archives and read all past issues of Learned there. To help you out, here is how each year of Learned (from April to March) breaks down, topic-wise:

Learned Volume One, April 2018 - March 2019

Begin reading here: Volume 1, Issue One

When I first began writing Learned, my intention was to explore a new topic every week that pertained to something I, myself, was interested in Learning. (Hence the “Relentlessly Curious” tagline that appears with the logo every issue.) As a result, the topics in volume 1 include everything from learning Korean and Toki Poki, to learning to draw better, to coming to terms with K-pop.

Learned Volume Two: Idiomatic, April 2019 - March 2020

Begin reading here: Volume 2, Issue One

By the time the first year of Learned was coming to a close, I had realized that I was most curious about the idioms we use every day. So began a year’s exploration into some of the more esoteric idioms and phrases we use that may not be quite so easy to explain. Things like “such is life,” “three sheets to the wind,” and “that which doesn’t kill us,” got analyzed and discussed.

Learned Volume Three: Comparison/Contrast, April 2020 - March 2021

Begin reading here: Volume 3, Issue One

The third volume of Learned saw me attempt to bridge the gap between volumes 1 and 2 by choosing a topic I was interested in learning more about and writing about it from a linguistic and etymological perspective. In other words, I looked at topics like brands and poetry and I analyzed some of the words and phrases that get used when discussing those topics.

Learned Volume Four: Words We Talk About When We Talk About Words, April 2021 - March 2022

Begin reading here: Volume 4, Issue One

Okay, I’ll ‘fess up this up front: I stole the title from Haruki Murakami’s fantastic “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” which, as the saying goes, if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best. In this most recent volume, I went in deep on the etymological history of, well, words we use when we talk about words. We looked at the definitions and history of words like, “word,” “sentence,” “poem,” and so on.

Learned Volume Five: Say It Again, But Slow, April 2022 - ongoing

Which brings us to volume five, Say It Again, But Slow. In this volume, we’ll be taking a look at words we don’t know. They might be new words borrowed from other languages, new slang words that the kids are using, or just something from the vast depths of the dictionary that we haven’t heard before. It’ll be fun, come along for the ride!