Do you know where your participle is dangling? Martha and Grant salute National Grammar Day. Also, when you’re scribbling on a piece of paper, do you find yourself expecting spellcheck to kick in and underline your misspellings with squiggly red lines? A caller wants a term for the act of trying to do offline what can only be done online.
This episode first aired March 1, 2008.
Celebrating Obscure National Holidays
Let’s see… there’s National Cheese Day on January 20, and of course National Iguana Awareness Day on September 8. So it’s only fitting that good grammar should get a day of its own, too. National Grammar Day has been proclaimed for March 4 by the the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, an organization for those “who crave good, clean English—sentences cast well and punctuated correctly.” The group’s site sums it up this way: “It’s about clarity.” Martha and Grant are down with that. So here’s to National Grammar Day and also to the wise cautionary note sounded by Baltimore Sun copy editor John McIntyre about the danger of getting too curmudegonly about it all.
A woman calls on behalf of her 12-year-old son, who wants to know the origin of the term “booby trap.” No, the hosts explain, the answer has nothing to do with brassieres. What about these strange fellows?
A Wisconsin resident gets misty-eyed remembering the steaming plates of Beef Manhattan and Turkey Manhattan from his elementary-school days in central Indiana. But why the “Manhattan” in their names? How far back to do you remember eating it? Let us know.
Lock, Stock, and Barrel
An equestrian wonders about the origin of the expression “lock, stock, and barrel.”
Online Behaviors Offline
Have you ever done something you regretted, and instinctively reached for the “undo” function, despite being nowhere near a computer? Maybe a page in your book accidentally turns and you reach for the browser’s back button? A Hoosier seeks a term for the act of trying to do offline what can only be done online.
The First Laddie
The election’s still months away, but a caller in Okinawa, Japan wonders how the husband of a female U.S. president should be addressed if the husband himself is a former president. The hosts rule out “First Laddie.”
Etymology of Piker
A caller wants to know the origin of the word piker, as in a “parsimonious person.”
Martha and Grant revisit a listener term for a particular doughnut, known as a “Bismark,” and share other listener mail about the “Bismarks” where they reside.
Variations of Padiddle Game
A few episodes ago, Martha and Grant asked listeners for variations on the road-trip game of padiddle, and boy, did they oblige. For starters, how about all these names for the tail-light version of padiddle? Padunkle, padonkle, perdunkle, pasquaddle, paduchi, Popeye, and dinklepink. Personally, we can’t wait for the next time we’re out on the road at night.
Goat’s Mouth and Happy Sack
This week’s Slang This! contestant tries to guess the meaning of the slang terms “goat’s mouth” and “happy sack.”
Pleaded vs. Pled
A caller wants to know which is correct: pleaded or pled?
The Life of Riley
An Indianapolis listener who lives on same street where James Whitcomb Riley made his home wonders if the poet’s name has anything to do with the expression associated with living in high style, “the life of Riley.” Click on the “lyrics” button on this transcription from a piano roll to see the full words to the song.
Articles for Words with Vowel Sounds
A California caller gets a clarification about when to use “a” and “an” if the next word starts with a vowel sound.
Photo by Steven Gerner. Used under a Creative Commons license.