Has the age of email led to an outbreak of exclamation marks? Do women use them more than men? Also, is there a word for the odd feeling when you listen to a radio personality for years, then discover that they look nothing like your mental picture of them? And what’s the origin of the verb bogart?

This episode first aired June 6, 2009.

Download the MP3.

 Bangs in your Inbox
Writing in the Guardian, Stuart Jeffries contends that our email boxes are being infested with exclamation marks, known as bangs or bangers (without mash) to some people. Jacob Rubin also wrote on the subject a couple of years ago in Slate.

 Bogart
If you tell a buddy, “Don’t bogart that joint,” you’re telling him not to hog the marijuana cigarette. Ahem. We know phrase was popularized in the film Easy Rider (performed by The Fraternity of Man) but does it have anything to do with Humphrey Bogart?

 Radiofreude
You know that odd feeling when you’ve listened to a radio personality for years, but when you finally meet them, they look nothing like you’d imagined? Is there a word for that weird disconnect? Radiofreude, maybe?

 Author Thoughts on Exclamation Marks
Martha shares what F. Scott Fitzgerald and Elmore Leonard had to say about exclamation marks. Short version: Neither is a fan.

 Chain Reaction Word Game
Quiz Guys John Chaneski and Greg Pliska lead a couple of rounds of “Chain Reaction,” a word game that’s great for parties and long car rides. Two players try to make a third one guess the word that the other two are thinking of. The trick is that they have to give alternating one-word clues to build a sentence. Hilarity ensues. Hillary sues.

 Davenports
Why do some people refer to a couch or a sofa as a davenport?

 Pronouncing Gala
How should you pronounce the word gala?

 Blotto
Grant reports some etymological news: A recent article in the journal American Speech suggests a new source for the term that means “drunk,” blotto.

 Rattle Your Dags
If you’re in New Zealand and are told to “rattle your dags,” you’d better get a move on. Literally, though, the expression has to do with sheep butts.

 Dreaming in Hindi
Martha reviews the new book, Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich, a memoir about setting out to learn a second language in mid-life. Rich spent a year in India to learn Hindi, and became so fascinated with the process that she went on to interview experts about the mechanics of second-language acquisition and how it affects the brain. Publisher’s Weekly has an interview with Rich. Grant discusses an article about what happens to the mother tongue voice when first-language speakers of indigenous languages in India learn English and then spend years focused on speaking and writing in their adopted tongue.

 Pigeonhole
How did the word pigeonhole come to mean “classify” or “categorize”?

 Golden Parachutes
An employee who gets a great termination package is said to leave the company with a golden parachute. Where’d that term come from?

 President Honorifics
A caller is adamant honorifics should be used to address the President of the United States, as in “President Obama,” never “Mr. Obama.” He thinks it’s disrespectful and divisive when news organizations use “Mr.”

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Photo by M M. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Broadcast

Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich
Tagged with →  

28 Responses

  1. Tom8021 says:

    After coming to the website and seeing your pictures, I think the word to use when the expectations don’t meet the face is ” Wreckanize” . Obvious play on recognize. What do you think? This can be positive as well as negative. It means how YOU feel not the hosts.

    Tom
    La Mesa

  2. bc says:

    I’m thinking we need to go with a foreign flavor here for the wrong visual impression one has of someone before seeing them in a photo or in person. How about either, “mal-ver” or “vu-gauche” (my personal favorite as it implies a certain awkward feeling about the moment, like how deja-vu refers to the feeling of having seen previously). I was also wondering about your use of an exclamation point at the top of your “Reply To Topic” comment, Courtesy Matters. Are you just emphasizing the courtesy aspect or as you discussed in the radio broadcast, are you just making fun of the statement?

    BC
    Palm Desert

  3. danomar says:

    Another fine show, thanks.

    One question about Presidential honorifics (hm, that looks like something to buy on QVC): I thought it was the original George W. who declined any references to royalty, not the plurbus people as mentioned in the show. This great humility was supposed to be another facet of the First President’s super awesomeness—that and his ability to fly without a cape.

    Grant, would you direct me to a reference about which party wanted to avoid royal references in early U.S. history?

  4. ablestmage says:

    As a security alarm dispatcher for many years, I spoke on the phone with the same people regularly who were checking in overnight (such as cleaning crews) and people who routinely set off their security alarms and had to call in or answer the phone — and I also formed mental imagery of what they looked like, later to discover them to be drastically different, in truth. You might augment the requirements for the new word to be merely in a situation where a voice is routinely heard and its speaker unseen (phone, radio, by the blind, etc).

    My grandparents (born ~1922, Texas/Oklahoma border area) have always called their couches a “devan” (uncertain spelling). “Get your shoes off the [deh-VAN]!” is something they would say to me or my brother if committing such a deed.

    Touching on what Martha noted as “second reference” regarding the president/mister title when referring to Obama — I’ve found that a significant portion of the public is not aware of varying styles of written or spoken newsreporting, such as AP Style or Chicago Style journalism and consider on some occasions newsreporters who speak or write with such styles (such as hyphenating adjectival phrases, or writing out numbers) as poorly educated in proper writing. I’ve had to explain on more than one occasion that it’s based on a different system of rules than the schoolhouse grammar teacher of yore, rather than being incorrect. I think this caller was one such person to misunderstand — that once a person has been identified in the lead/bridge/what-have-you, simply using “Mr. Obama” or calling someone purely by their surname (“Thursday, Obama spoke with..”) is not at all disrespectful. While in college, a fellow English major who was also in journalism told me his professor wrote on his term paper for a literature class that, “You could write great articles for the New York Times. However, this is an English class.”

  5. Glenn says:

    The spelling of your /deh-VAN/ is “divan.” Since it comes via French (from Turkish) a few of the several pronunciations are stressed on the second syllable. My mother-in-law, now 94 years old, always uses the word “davenport.” For us it was always “sofa” or “couch.”

  6. Christopher Murray says:

    I overuse commas!

    I try to go back and remove some, like Martha’s exclamation mark lint, but I feel they make the writing easier to parse, even if they are superfluous.

  7. JerryP says:

    I LOVE wreckanize as a suggested word but it might not be popular with those I believe in TV-land were once called “Talking Heads”.
    How about misimageing as in, “I totally misimaged Grant but my misimage of Martha wasn’t a miss at all” or “I keep misimaging what Grant looks like!”

    As far as exclamations go, what are the options? It’s either an exclamation mark or using capitalization (as I did in the word “love” above). This is sometimes difficult with caps representing shouting in e-mailese. Beyond that you can underline but the keyboard strokes to accomplish this are a nuisance.

    Lastly, I once worked with a number of Aussies, Kiwis and Brits and one of the British mates happened to have the initials D.A.G. Naturally he was called Dag. He was a dag too unlike my son whom we named Randall and called Randy. He isn’t so terribly randy.

  8. AnMa says:

    I’d like to respond to the caller in this week’s episode who passionately and sincerely insisted on the use of titles by the news media.

    It is clear that this issue has been on his mind for some time and he has given much thought to it. However, I can also say that I have given much time and thought to this issue and I have passionately come to the conclusion that in a democratic society, we should _never_ use job titles as honorifics for holders of public office.

    First of all, I should point out, as I think Martha tried to, that it is the general practice of news articles to give full titles and names on first reference and then resort to a shortened form on subsequent references. There are a few old-fashioned institutions, such as The New York Times, that still use “Mr.” and other courtesy titles. However, the majority of news media use family name only on second reference, and this seems a fully logical, modern, egalitarian, and admirable practice to me.

    However, I mentioned before that I am passionate on this issue, so I would go even further.

    The conceptual, philosophical, moral, and legal basis of our system of government is egalitarianism and the idea that government authority derives from the will of the people. That is, when it comes to governing our society, we each possess a unit of public voice that is equal in size and importance to everyone else’s. We are equal before the law, and under the law. And we use these equal units of voice to choose a time-limited administration.

    In other words, legally and morally, our public office-holders are not our rulers, but our employees, and temporary ones at that. As employees, they are entitled to common courtesy, but they are most emphatically not entitled to deference.

    Thus, in my view, a public office holder should be treated with the same courtesy that any two members of society should confer on each other, but absolutely no sign of deference. We should address public office holders only with the kinds of courtesies that any member of society may claim right to. Thus, Mr./Ms./etc. are fine, because any member of society are entitled to be addressed as such.

    However, public office holders should not be granted deferential forms of address, such as “Your Honor,” because as employees of the public, the deference should go in the other direction. Even more so, I believe that names of public offices, that is, job titles, should not be converted into forms of deference. That means that people holding public positions with titles such as president, senator, or chief justice, should never be addressed with those job titles used as honorifics.

    If I were the managing editor of a news outlet, therefore, I would choose the style “Mr. Barack H. Obama II, the U.S. president” and just plain “Mr. Obama” or “Obama” on second reference, never “President Obama.”

  9. MisterFurious says:

    I sent an e-mail regarding this, the first contact I have ever made with the show after years of listening, and an automated reply suggested I also post here.

    In concocting a word to describe meeting a voice personality for the first time and finding that they looked nothing like how I imagined, I concentrated on the feeling of subdued shock. It only took a few seconds to follow that up with “mug shock.”

    I like how it plays with the term, “mug shot,” which itself contains a now-rare slang term for someone’s face that I happen to like, and try to use whenever possible.

  10. Glenn says:

    For me the voice phenomenon occurs most often with phone contact. It has been quite common for me to work extensively with people without any visual contact. I used the unimaginative term “phone presence” to refer to the mental images I would construct. Sometimes my image would be right on, sometimes it was a real case of “mug shock” when we met.

  11. JerryP says:

    AnMa said:

    However, public office holders should not be granted deferential forms of address, such as “Your Honor,” because as employees of the public, the deference should go in the other direction. Even more so, I believe that names of public offices, that is, job titles, should not be converted into forms of deference. That means that people holding public positions with titles such as president, senator, or chief justice, should never be addressed with those job titles used as honorifics.

    If I were the managing editor of a news outlet, therefore, I would choose the style “Mr. Barack H. Obama II, the U.S. president” and just plain “Mr. Obama” or “Obama” on second reference, never “President Obama.”


    What of something such as “Mr.President” as a form of 2nd person address? It seems simply like a recognition of ones job. One might also find it confusing in a gender situation. As an example if you were to say, “Secretary Clinton” one would know you were referring to Hillary and not “President Clinton”. Assuming one didn’t know if Nancy Pelosi were married or not, wouldn’t “Speaker Pelosi” or “Congresswoman Pelosi” be preferred over Ms.Pelosi or Mrs.Pelosi? I believe there are exceptions to your rule.

  12. bruce grill says:

    Hello Grant and Martha

    I’ve listened to the program for years. It is not passion for the subject that has inspired me to write to you. It just happens to be something I remember well.

    For you see, I was there back in 1969 when the expression “Don’t Bogart…” was somewhat fresh. As the younger siblings of the so-called counterculture, we witnessed everything, including the bogarting of joints.

    I do not agree that hogging onto something brought to mind Bogie’s alpha male persona, and hence the phrase “Don’t Bogart that joint”. No no no.

    When somebody would hold onto the joint to tell a story…it inevitable was a long winding road of a story. The image I have, is of the “Bogart-er”, if you will, screwing up his face, holding the cigarette like Bogart did, and often even using it as a prop to make a point.

    There’s was no alpha dog action back then, justy solid passive agression. In fact girls could be violators of the etiquette as much as the boys were.

    Anyway, I’m your elder and I was there, so take it from me, it was the Bogart like
    physical stage business that popularized the expression in my day.

  13. AnMa says:

    JerryP said:

    What of something such as “Mr.President” as a form of 2nd person address? It seems simply like a recognition of ones job.

    A news report should have no reason to “recognize” one’s job.

    One might also find it confusing in a gender situation. As an example if you were to say, “Secretary Clinton” one would know you were referring to Hillary and not “President Clinton”.

    As I said before, news articles always fully identify the subjects at the start. We would already know whether “Clinton” referred to the current secretary of state or the former president. In the rare occasions when there are repeated references to both, then there are many ways of handling it, using their own names, without having to resort to titles.

    Examples:

    First reference: Bill Clinton, the former U.S. president, and Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state …

    Second reference: Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, or Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Clinton, or (for informal articles) Bill and Hillary

    Assuming one didn’t know if Nancy Pelosi were married or not

    1. No respectable news outlet wouldn’t know whether she was married.

    2. Her marital status is not necessarily relevant anyway.

    a. Because only a small number of publications still insist on using a courtesy title — most mainstream publications would refer to her by her full name on first reference and then just as “Pelosi” on second reference.

    b. Because even if you insisted on using a courtesy title without (i) knowing her marital status or (ii) knowing her preference, “Ms. Pelosi” is perfectly acceptable.

    c. Because Nancy Pelosi’s husband is rarely the subject of news articles. “Pelosi” works just fine.

    wouldn’t “Speaker Pelosi” or “Congresswoman Pelosi” be preferred over Ms.Pelosi or Mrs.Pelosi?

    As I said before –

    First reference: Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the speaker of the House of Representatives

    Second reference: Pelosi

    Very simple.

  14. Jazyk says:

    Another language, Turkish, also uses the phrase to drink a cigarette: sigara içmak.

    Charles Harrington Elster, author of The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations, also prefers gala (gayla). I believe his book is among the recommended literature on this site.

  15. Ron Draney says:

    They drink (nomu) cigarettes in Japanese, too. They also drink medicine, even if it’s in the form of a pill (or, I believe, a suppository!).

  16. Gedaly says:

    Yet another great episode!!! Do my exclamation marks make me sound more friendly? I usually limit my use of this punctuation mark in correspondence. I will usually make sure that I never end two sentences in a row with exclamation marks. That’s about all the thought I had put into it until now. I rarely will ever use it for formal writing, but I think in email and chat it helps add expression.

    I grew up using the word sofa with my largely spanish-speaking family. I remember I was introduced to couch as soon as I started going over to friend’s houses.

  17. JerryP says:

    AnMa said:

    Very simple.


    Excellent points. It’s difficult to get around how the Nuns taught us.

  18. Glenn says:

    I have no disagreement with the use of “Mr.”, for example, or just a last name in reference to public officials, at least in journalism, once their position has been established.

    I also would make a distinction between “address” and “reference.” Those I would reference by name in an article (e.g. Dr. Kildare, head of Edocrinology at University of Lilliput … Yesterday, Kildare spoke … ), I might well address with a title or honorific. (e.g. Dr. Kildare, would you please … )

    I agree that any two members of our society deserve mutual respect. But I have trouble agreeing with the idea that public officials are merely employees and don’t deserve deferential forms of address, simply because they are employees of the public. They are employees that have often been given a “governing” (I prefer “governing” to “ruling”) responsibility and authority. The respect shown to the person should be common to all people, but there should be uncommon respect shown to the office of those who have been given special oversight of the common welfare.

    Surely, if they do not have uncommon ability to perform the office, worthy of respect, they should not be in the office.

  19. Jazyk says:

    I should have written sigara içmek instead of içmak in my post. Sorry for the typo. Isn’t there a way we can edit our posts?

  20. Glenn says:

    You have the option to edit only while your post is the last one.

  21. Gedaly says:

    I’ll submit my vote for “mug shock.” Should there be a more general term when other expectations are not met exactly as you expected? Maybe you see a face and expect a certain kind of voice, or hear a person’s name and form an opinion based on that?

  22. AnMa says:

    I agree that any two members of our society deserve mutual respect. But I have trouble agreeing with the idea that public officials are merely employees and don’t deserve deferential forms of address, simply because they are employees of the public. They are employees that have often been given a “governing” (I prefer “governing” to “ruling”) responsibility and authority. The respect shown to the person should be common to all people, but there should be uncommon respect shown to the office of those who have been given special oversight of the common welfare.

    It looks like we’re just not going to agree on this. From my point of view, a democratic system demands that we not engage in courtesies that grants public officials a higher status than other citizens, and that includes any and all forms of deference.

    Surely, if they do not have uncommon ability to perform the office, worthy of respect, they should not be in the office.


    This bit makes no sense to me. First, respect and deference are not the same thing. As I said before, respect is easily shown with common courtesy and requires no forms of deference.

    Second, “ability to perform the office” is something that we the public hope for, but is not something that is necessarily present. Furthermore, ability bears no relationship to forms of deference.

  23. Glenn says:

    Is the use of Dr. also anathema in your view?

  24. AnMa says:

    In what circumstance?

    A patient interacting with a physician who is acting in his capacity as a physician (or between two physicians acting in their professional capacities), or a student interacting with the holder of a doctorate degree who is acting in an academic capacity (or between two academics, in their professional capacities) — I see no problem with the use of “doctor” as a mode of address in these situations.

    I see no reason to use “doctor” for the holder of a public office in a democratic system who is acting in his or her capacity as a public official. It seems somewhat less offensive to me than “president,” “chief justice,” “the honorable,” etc., because it’s not directly based upon the office. However, I would prefer to avoid any appearance of deference. A public official should be content with Mr./Mrs./Ms., titles that all members of the society may rightfully claim.

  25. ruve says:

    I had thought that “Bogarting” something had to do with how Bogart allowed his cigarette to perch on his lip, sometimes bobbing up and down as he spoke. Letting the cigarette just smolder without him inhaling from it is wasteful, I assumed, hence wasting or hogging something could be “Bogarting.” Am I completely off base or does this make sense? Does anyone know if there is a basis in history for this understanding?

  26. purduepicc says:

    Hearing the mention of the word “davenport” on the show today brought back memories of my grandmother. She always referred to their couch as the davenport. She was born sometime in the 1910s in Indiana.

  27. tromboniator says:

    ruve, that was exactly my understanding of the word when I first heard it, in the context of Easy Rider,back when it was new. That image was, and is, so clear and strong that I’ve never thought to look further for the origin.

  28. arlen says:

    Ruve is indeed correct. As both a Little Feat fan (I’m listening to “Willin'” as I write this) and a child of the sixties, the phrase derives from the way Bogart left a cigarette hanging on his lips while speaking lines, letting the cigarette just sit there and burn, without inhaling.

    To “Bogart a joint” meant you were letting the extremely valuable non-tobacco-product just burn away, without giving anyone (including yourself, so it had nothing to do with dominance of others) the benefit of it. You were being wasteful of it (although, looking back on it with clearer vision, I suppose you *could* argue that was, in fact, a subtle form of dominance, but it wasn’t so much by hogging it for yourself as by preventing someone else from using it).

    The art of the music video was in its infancy then, but I seem dimly to remember one of the music shows of the day putting together a video to go with the song which featured Bogart doing just that, letting his cigarette hang in his mouth. Still, a quick search of YouTube doesn’t turn up the video I remember, so that could be bogus.

    Still, another small correction. IIRC, the Easy Rider soundtrack appearance was by Fraternity of Man, not Little Feat, though Lowell George (who was one of the founders of Little Feat) was in Fraternity of Man at the time and the song crossed over to Little Feat with him. Little Feat was founded about the time easy Rider was released, but didn’t issue its first recording until after 1970.

    Most of this is done from memory, though, and in the words of David Crosby, “Anyone who claims to remember the 60’s wasn’t really there,” so it’s quite possible I’m a little foggy on some of the details.

Leave a Reply