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The College Slang Party (full episode)
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2011/10/05
10:37pm
San Diego, California
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Ever been to an ABC party? How about a darty? The hosts discuss these and other slang terms heard around campus. They also talk about mulligrubs and collywobbles, take a shot at a puzzle for celebrity couples, potions that make childbirth a pleasure, and they check-up on old spelling bee champs. And to set the record straight, a preposition as a sentence-ender is something up with which we shall most definitely put!

This episode first aired October 1, 2011.

Download the MP3.

 ABC Party
What would you wear to an ABC party? Hint: the letters stand for “Anything But Clothes.” Any guesses what you’d wear to a tight-and-bright party? Martha gives a taste of the college party terminology from a slang collection compiled by Penn State student Emily Grier.

 Come With
Are you left hanging by the invitation “Do you want to come with?” A Milwaukee native is proud of this regionalism, which means “Do you want to come along?” Grant explains that it may be related to the German verb mitkommen, a single word that literally means to “come with.”

 Beautiful Silence
If what you’re going to say isn’t more beautiful than silence, don’t say it. Martha shares this proverb, translated from the original Arabic.

 Mollycobwobbles
you suffer from restless nights of tossing and turning, you may have a case of the mollycobwobbles. A listener shares this hand-me-down term from her grandmother. Grant explains she may well have combined two English terms dating about 150 years back: mulligrubs and collywobbles. The aptly named affliction usually consisted of the jitters, the shakes, or even the yips.

 Punnet
That little basket that your strawberries and blueberries come in? It’s called a punnet. Just so you know.

 Odd Couples Word Puzzle
Quiz Guy Greg Pliska addles our brains with a puzzle called Odd Couples. See if you can figure out these strange celebrity pairings who share last names. “Anyone? Bueller, Bueller, Bueller” and “Bueller is Bueller is Bueller,” for example, forms the odd couple of Ben and Gertrude Stein. And who else could hit home runs in the bedroom like Babe and Dr. Ruth?

 Miracle-Potion Pitch
Looking for something that curls your hair, cleans your teeth, and makes childbirth a pleasure? A listener’s mother used that saying in reference to every miracle potion from WD-40 to vinegar. Grant explains that the first known version of this in print dates back to 1919 in Mrs. Lucretia Graves’ Exits from the Pearly Gates, where the advertisements for opium-type substances had less cheek and more sincerity. Grant notes that Google Books has a wealth of examples of old ads that took the saying and used even more elaborate versions to promote everything from tequila to hypnosis.

 Boughten
Is boughten a past tense form of to buy? Grant gives his blessing to its use in informal conversation, but when it comes to formal writing, the word you want is bought.

 Darty
What are the college kids up to these days? Apparently, they’re busy at darties, or “day parties.” Martha shares this collegiate portmanteau from Emily Grier’s list.

 Prepositions at the Ends of Sentences
Can sentences end with a preposition? Yes! Grant assures a listener that all experts, including the most conservative of linguists and lexicographers, agree that a preposition as the last word in a sentence is something up with which we shall put.

 Monroe Piercing
Tell your Mom the sterling silver stud above your lip isn’t “that dumb thing.” It’s called a Monroe piercing, in honor of Marilyn’s famed beauty mark.

 Spelling Bees
Though the Spanish language, among others, has its quirks and foreignisms, the English language really can’t be touched when it comes to complicated and irregular spelling. Thus, spelling bees are primarily an English-language phenomenon. Grant mentions a few “where are they now?” stories about past Scripps Bee winners. The common thread? If these kids had the discipline to compete in such a high-pressure event, they tend to carry those traits beyond the spelling arena and into their successes later in life.

 Mathematical
If something is mathematical, is it cool? According to a mother of two middle-schoolers, that’s exactly what it’s come to mean among the younger set. Then again, irony is also pretty hip. But could her kids be using a piece of ironic slang with confused sincerity? Ahh! Meta-irony! So cool!

 His Balloon Has Lost Its String
If someone’s balloon has lost its string, it means “they’ve come unmoored”. Something unusual or odd has come about in their character. Patrice Evans used the illustration in his description of Tracy Morgan in an article for Grantland (no relation to our show’s co-host).

 Old Witticisms
He thinks he’s a wit, and he’s half right. Though some might attribute the quote to Shakespeare, it’s nowhere to be found in the concordances. Grant explains how many of these witticisms have been tumbled about by old newspaper columnists, humorists, and vaudeville performers. Though their origins are muddled, they can still be a joy to hear and say.

 Sentence-Initial So
So, can a sentence begin with the word so? Which ones? So is oftentimes used in place of therefore to conclude an explanation, but more people are using it as a general sentence-starter, in the same vein as well. Grant notes that while it may be grating to the ear, it’s not wrong, and it’s more productive not to peeve about it, but instead to record it and add it to the rest of the data we collect about our language. Ultimately, we learn about each other by doing so.

 Boffin
Martha shares a British article that begins, “Boffins have discovered a strange new type of spongy mushroom.” But what, you may ask, is a boffin? The word boffin denotes an intellectual with a specific expertise and general lack of social aptitude. Grant adds anorak to the list of terms for nerds with minimal aptitude for cocktail-party conversations. Here’s to you, boffins and anoraks!

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Broadcast

Exits from the Pearly Gates by Lucretia Graves

Music Used in the Broadcast

Title Artist Album Label
Anger Management Shawn Lee and Princess Superstar Save The Music – A Compilation For Record Store Day Ubiquity Records
Taurus Dennis Coffey Goin’ For Myself Max Cat
Impressions Of Dennis Coffey Evolution Max Cat
Oxygene (Part III) Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene Polydor
Party Time Roger Hamilton Spotts Tongue Soundtrack Chocolate Cities
K-Jee The Nite-Liters Golden Classics Collectables
Astro Blue Lord Newborn & The Magic Skulls Lord Newborn & The Magic Skulls Ubiquity Records
Oxygene (Part IV) Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene Polydor
Johnny’s Gone To Vietnam Cal Green Johnny’s Gone To Vietnam 45rpm Mutt and Jeff Records
You Shirley Scott and The Soul Saxes Shirley Scott and The Soul Saxes Atlantic
Trippin’ Cal Green Trippin’ 45rpm Mutt and Jeff Records
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Book UMG Recordings, Inc
2011/10/06
9:03am
Wichita Falls, TX
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My favorite preposition-ended sentence has five of them at the end (so to speak).. “What did you bring that book that I wanted to be read to out of up for?”

The Adventure Time show is a quick, seven-minute mini-show and can be viewed online (link below, questionable legality) and within the first three minutes of the pilot episode, we hear, “Algebraic!” “Mathematical!” and “Columbus!” and the show can get a bit surreal in trying to move the story along quickly enough. “Hey! Sloppy Milkshake!” used as an insult was also a highlight =P

http://adventuretimeforfree.blogspot.com/2010/06/adventure-time-pilot.html

Grant’s suggestion that someone’s brain suspecting language as having developed a new trend after mentally isolating a pet peeve-ish variation in speaking, reminds me of how often you notice the kind of car you are driving, more than any other ordinary car — especially after newly purchasing one such car. After I randomly decided I hate the phrase “all but” to describe something as “nearly” or “almost entirely,” I started hearing it *everywhere* although I’m sure it was just being used as frequently as it had been before. I’ve called it frequioception in that it’s a perception of change in frequency regarding a topic. For instance: “Since I heard about colliwobbles on A Way With Words, I’ve experienced an increased frequioception of the word,” or “I used to see Mazdas all over town when I drove one, but now that I’m driving a Ford pickup, I’ve experienced a decreased frequioception of Mazdas.”

A blip on my language radar with increased frequioception lately has been the use of “of” as a replacement for the contracted ‘ve. I was amazed to have seen it actually used in a Family Circus comic panel, for July 22, 2011, where little Billy says in the caption, “The Beacon Hill kids must of had a tough time skateboarding on THESE streets,” when it should have been “must’ve” and I’ve seen a dozen plus people use “should of” and “would of” (some of them being college-age ESL students, though).. I’m curious as to how far back this trend reaches?

http://justcartoonsonly.blogspot.com/2011/07/family-circus-arcamax-publishing-family_2940.html

Another word I’ve invented is duoapostrophic (which, like frenquioception, is a double-dactyl (perhaps even triple) and has a 3 immediately consecutive vowels) which describes a contraction or otherwise displacement of letters in a word/phrase, that could be substituted by 2 apostrophes. The only duoapostrophic words I’ve come across so far, have been rural-style pronunciations of words, such as doe’n’t (sounds like dudn’t, for doesn’t) and ‘le’en (or possibly even ‘le’em), for eleven. This opens the way for other words like multiapostrophic, trioapostrphic, quadroapostrophic, etc.

2011/10/06
11:18am
New River, AZ, USA
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Love those made-up words! Very creative. I mentioned this in another thread, but I’ll say it again here. The only word I ever actually made up was in response to a solicitation for new “sniglets” by SNL comedian Rich Hall back in the 80s. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sniglet.

Anyway, my sniglet was “geogoraphobic.” It’s meaning was “the tendency of whatever detail you’re searching for in an atlas to be located at the seam between two pages.” Never made it into print or SNL, but I always liked it.

2011/10/06
12:16pm
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ablestmage said:

A blip on my language radar with increased frequioception lately has been the use of “of” as a replacement for the contracted ‘ve. I was amazed to have seen it actually used in a Family Circus comic panel, for July 22, 2011, where little Billy says in the caption, “The Beacon Hill kids must of had a tough time skateboarding on THESE streets,” when it should have been “must’ve” and I’ve seen a dozen plus people use “should of” and “would of” (some of them being college-age ESL students, though).. I’m curious as to how far back this trend reaches?


I must of heard of for have all of my 56 years (although I rarely see it in print). (smiley)

Emmett

2011/10/06
12:49pm
Ron Draney
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ablestmage said:

Another word I’ve invented is duoapostrophic (which, like frenquioception, is a double-dactyl (perhaps even triple) and has a 3 immediately consecutive vowels) which describes a contraction or otherwise displacement of letters in a word/phrase, that could be substituted by 2 apostrophes. The only duoapostrophic words I’ve come across so far, have been rural-style pronunciations of words, such as doe’n’t (sounds like dudn’t, for doesn’t) and ‘le’en (or possibly even ‘le’em), for eleven. This opens the way for other words like multiapostrophic, trioapostrphic, quadroapostrophic, etc.


I trust you are aware of Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift receiving her Video Music Award that contained the classic line “I’m’a let you finish”?

2011/10/06
6:21pm
AndyLu
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Sorry, Grant.

The starting “So,…” is *much* more common now than even 5 years ago. I’ll take it another step and posit that it’s much more common among academics than lay-folk. The next ten times you hear a starting ‘So,’ I’ll bet you that nine of them are from researchers, doctoral students, or lab assistants. Find an discussion with a full-bird, tenured, published professor and you’ll, likely get all ten cases in the same interview!

As for the word ‘boughten,’ my first, most, and favorite exposure to this “word” was in John Prine’s song Souvenirs: “Memories, they can’t be boughten./ They can’t be won at carnivals for free.”

Love the show – even the parts I don’t agree with (like ending that sentence with a preposition!)!

-AL

2011/10/06
7:05pm
Lynne
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Here in Australia, “punnet” is a common word. When I first moved here about two years ago, I was completely flummoxed by a magazine recipe that called for two punnets of berries. When I mentioned this to an Aussie friend, she replied that she had had a similar experience in the USA–she was stymied by a recipe calling for a “pat” of butter! I can’t begin to tell you how many new words for common objects I’ve learned here. Or not learned, and amused the natives with my ignorance.

As for “boughten,” my numerous Michigan relatives all use this word, usually as an adjective, and often as the full phrase “store-boughten.” My husband and I have discussed this issue before, and agree that it is used primarily to distinguish homemade from purchased. If you can’t make it at home, the purchased thing isn’t “boughten”–I never heard anyone say his or her car was store-boughten.

Love the show, of course. I’m no word expert, but I would say I’m a word collector. Is there a nice term for that, analogous to philatelist and numismatist?

Lynne

2011/10/07
12:01am
tromboniator
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Spelling Bee Humiliation: I have always been an excellent speller, but in 1961, in Mr. Vrabel’s seventh-grade English class, I came to ignominious defeat when a circuit failed in my brain as I was presented with the word honor. Feeling that something was dreadfully wrong, but no idea what, I opened my mouth and said, “O…”

2011/10/07
1:57am
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Greg Pliska’s game of “Odd Couples” reminded me of an oddity I stumbled across a few years ago. Can you name two unrelated actors with the same last name who played the same character? George Reeves and Christopher Reeve as Superman are a near-miss, as are Tom and Colin Baker in “Doctor Who” since neither did the TV role in a feature film.

I came up with one pair who played the same character in movies made 61 years apart. Additional hint: the movies were adapted from the same classic novel, and the titles of both films were identical (and identical to the novel as well).

2011/10/07
7:18am
telemath
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Re: the old ads, my grandfather used to say that eating burnt toast “will give you shiny teeth and curly hair!” It didn’t take long until my brother and I were saying it would give you shiny hair and curly teeth.

I heard a lot of “so” in Boise, Idaho, in 1999 and 2000. Everyone used it. But, sentences didn’t just sometimes begin with “so.” They also frequently ended with “so.” e.g. “We’re a little behind schedule, but we have to have a solid rollout date for marketing, so…” and I’m waiting for the rest of the sentence, but it never comes. “So” is the conclusion. It was very confusing to hear at first, then frustrating to find that I picked it up, and difficult to remove from my vocabulary when I left the area.

2011/10/07
8:50am
Darrell
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“Come with” is very common in the northwest. I’ve lived here in Seattle my whole life. This is usually used among friends, especially when about to go partake in a fun activity such at lunch, or a drink.

Why say “me” or “us”, when those are the only possible words that could complete the sentence.

2011/10/07
1:57pm
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Regarding “so.” Old English has the word “hwaet,” which in addition to being an interrogative pronoun (our modern “what”) also served as an introductory interjection, similar to “lo” or “oh.”

In his 2000 edition of “Beowulf,” Seamus Heaney translates the opening lines:

Hwaet we Gar-Dena in gear-dagum
theod-cyninga thrym gefrunon,
hu tha aethelingas ellen fremedon.

(So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by
and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns.)

An interesting coming together of the very old and the new.

2011/10/07
5:10pm
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So, I heard your segment where a preposition is something you shouldn’t end a sentence with.

I was SO glad that grammar mavens don’t really think this construction is a sin. My teachers certainly told me that it was wrong.

I was reminded of the following:

A dad was carrying a book up the stairs, and his son says,

“Why did you bring that book that I don’t want to be read to out of up for?”

2011/10/08
2:56am
tromboniator
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Ron Draney said:
I came up with one pair who played the same character in movies made 61 years apart. Additional hint: the movies were adapted from the same classic novel, and the titles of both films were identical (and identical to the novel as well).


I think I have the right movies and novel, but I’m not finding actors/character to fit the criteria. Still working…

2011/10/09
11:56pm
Ron Draney
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tromboniator said:

Ron Draney said:
I came up with one pair who played the same character in movies made 61 years apart. Additional hint: the movies were adapted from the same classic novel, and the titles of both films were identical (and identical to the novel as well).


I think I have the right movies and novel, but I’m not finding actors/character to fit the criteria. Still working…


If it doesn’t match, there’s a good chance you’ve found another example, and I’d be interested to hear the puzzle-solving process in progress. In the one I was thinking of, the character in question is unmistakeably the leading role.

And since I’m giving out free hints: the title shared by the novel and both movies contains a color.

2011/10/12
3:22pm
JohnnyEclectic
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When I heard about using “so” to start a sentence, I thought of the phrase “so anyway” that is often used as well. My favorite example was Terry Jones in a Monty Python skit, dressed as woman, about to give testimony in court, stating, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So anyway …”. Cracked me up!

I was particularly interested when the phrase “Do you want to come with” came up. My wife is from Wisconsin, and has used this often. When we were first dating, I had read a humorous article suggesting that the state word for Wisconsin should be “once”, since it ended so many sentences. She used it often, but became self-conscious when I told her about the article, and stopped using it. I don’t think I ever heard her say, “Do you want to come with, once” though.

2011/10/13
12:44am
tromboniator
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Ron Draney said:

If it doesn’t match, there’s a good chance you’ve found another example, and I’d be interested to hear the puzzle-solving process in progress. In the one I was thinking of, the character in question is unmistakeably the leading role.

And since I’m giving out free hints: the title shared by the novel and both movies contains a color.


I jumped on the first novel-to-movie of which I knew of multiple movies, and it happened that the first two movie versions (there are others, some with titles not identical to the novel, some are sequels or derivatives) that popped up happen to be 61 years apart. This is a one-word title, which is the name of the central character. The first contender I’ve come up with using the color hint seems not to meet the 61-year condition, but I’ll try to find names that work. May take a while — I’m squandering valuable search time being a grandfather.

2011/10/13
5:13am
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ablestmage said:

The only duoapostrophic words I’ve come across so far, have been rural-style pronunciations of words, such as doe’n’t (sounds like dudn’t, for doesn’t) and ‘le’en (or possibly even ‘le’em), for eleven.


There are several standard ones. All the ones I can think of are the negative of past tense, mostly modals:
shouldn’t’ve; couldn’t’ve; wouldn’t’ve, mightn’t’ve, oughtn’t’ve, etc. (NOT shouldn’t of, couldn’t of, etc.)

If you see any squiggly lines, rest assured that you shouldn’t’ve.

[edit: added the following] I just noticed that this is my 1000th post. I almost said contribution, but that might’ve been presumptuous, since my actual contributions probably number in single digits.

[edit: added the following] Some additional examples include the many would haves and a couple of will haves:
I’d’ve
you’d’ve
he’d’ve
we’d’ve
etc.
we’ll’ve
you’ll’ve
etc.
and I missed a notable in the first list:
won’t’ve

2011/10/13
6:37am
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I’m very glad to hear this, because living in Belgium, I always assumed this was a Gallicism when used by people speaking English here (from the French “veux-tu venir avec” which is perfectly standard in French. I can also see Grant’s point that it could come from German(and Dutch has the same) separable verb mitkommen/meekomen: Kom je mee is the Dutch question form: are you coming with?

Darrell said:

“Come with” is very common in the northwest. I’ve lived here in Seattle my whole life. This is usually used among friends, especially when about to go partake in a fun activity such at lunch, or a drink.

Why say “me” or “us”, when those are the only possible words that could complete the sentence.


2011/10/13
6:41am
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Interesting – I just finished reading “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen, which frequently has characters (particularly younger ones) ending a sentence with “so” (as a sort of trailing off of a thought of what the consequence should be of whatever was just stated). Knowing Franzen is a careful writer, I presumed this was not so much his idiosyncrasy as a feature of speech he observed – at least in Minnesota, where the characters are from. Is it particular to one region, I wonder, or common in American speech generally?

telemath said:

Re: the old ads, my grandfather used to say that eating burnt toast “will give you shiny teeth and curly hair!” It didn’t take long until my brother and I were saying it would give you shiny hair and curly teeth.

I heard a lot of “so” in Boise, Idaho, in 1999 and 2000. Everyone used it. But, sentences didn’t just sometimes begin with “so.” They also frequently ended with “so.” e.g. “We’re a little behind schedule, but we have to have a solid rollout date for marketing, so…” and I’m waiting for the rest of the sentence, but it never comes. “So” is the conclusion. It was very confusing to hear at first, then frustrating to find that I picked it up, and difficult to remove from my vocabulary when I left the area.


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