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Zig-Zag and Shilly-Shally (full episode)
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2009/10/24
11:29am
Grant Barrett
San Diego, California
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Bavarian Chalet. Mushroom Basket. Moose Point. Who in the heck comes up with the names of paints, anyway? Martha and Grant ponder that mystery. They also explain why those annoying emails go by the name spam. And Grant explains the difference between being "adorbs" and "bobo."

This episode first aired October 24, 2009. Listen here:

[audio:http://feeds.waywordradio.org/~r/awwwpodcast/~5/Fow33kh3ZSU/101129-AWWW-zig-zag-and-shilly-shally.mp3

Download the MP3 here 23.5 MB).

To be automatically notified when audio is available, subscribe to the podcast using iTunes or another podcatching program.

Bavarian Chalet. Mushroom Basket. Moose Point. Who in the heck comes up with the names of paint, anyway? Must be the same people who get paid to give names like Love Child, Sellout, and Apocalypse to shades of lipstick. Martha and Grant discuss wacky color names.

Hurly-burly, helter-skelter, zigzag, shilly-shally — the hosts dish out some claptrap about words like these, otherwise known as reduplications or rhyming jingles.

If someone's naked as a needle, just how naked are they? Why "needle"?

Grant and Martha discuss more goofy names for lipstick. Mauvelous Memories, anyone?

Quiz Guy John Chaneski's latest puzzle requires players to guess the last word in a two-line verse. For example: "He’s seven feet tall and big as a tank, The meanest Marine that you’ve ever BLANK." (Stumped? Take a letter out of "seven.")

An Episcopal priest in Toledo worries that her sermons are cluttered with dashes. This works just fine when she's preaching, but when the same text appears on her church's website, it looks like a messy tangle of words and punctuation. The hosts discuss the differences between text written for oral delivery, and text written to be read silently.

Why is that annoying stuff in your email box called spam? Grant has the answer. Here's the Monty Python skit that inspired it.

Can a first-time event ever be called "The First Annual" Such-and-Such? Members of a Cedar Rapids group planning a social mixer disagree.

Is that snazzy new car adorbs or bobo? Grant talks about adorbs, bobo, and a few other slang terms collected by Professor Connie Eble of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Theories about how Latin Americans came to use the term gringo as a disparaging word for foreigners. We can easily rule out the one about the song "Green Grow the Lilacs," but what about the rest?

An insurance fraud investigator in Milwaukee wonders if he's correct to use a semicolon immediately after the word "however." Grant suggests that the word and the punctuation mark should do a do-si-do.

Many of us learned the rule about using the preposition between when talking about two items, but among when talking about more than two. In reality, though, the rule is a little more complicated.

Someone who's extremely busy may be said to be busier than a cranberry merchant. What is it that keeps cranberry merchants so busy, anyway?

2009/10/26
7:15pm
Gabor
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as far as I know zig-zag and itzy-bitzy are expressions brought from Hungary with the late 19th century wave of immigration. Zig-zag is a little mysterious though as the Hungarian meaning (of zeg-zeg) is somewhat different.

2009/10/27
4:24am
tatiana.larina
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When I was in England in 1997, Yardley had a lipstick called "Mary Shelley". I still wish I had bought it, not for my personal use (it was a purplish shade, something for Gothic raven-haired women, I suppose), but just as a curio.

2009/10/27
11:55am
johng423
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COLORS:
1. Some companies used to name colors in a way that was clever but still identifiable. The examples I remember are "Zane grey" and "tuckered-out plum."
2. An old story tells of a husband and wife getting ready for a yard sale.
She suggested they print up fliers in an attention-getting color like "sunflower."
"Why do you have to give it a fancy name?" he replied irritably. "Just call it 'yellow'."
When they get to the copy center, he took control and spoke up first: "We want 20 copies of this on YELLOW paper."
To which the clerk responded, "Did you mean 'marigold'?"

2009/10/27
11:56am
johng423
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"first annual" – At work, our publications style guide tells us to use "inaugural" instead. From dictionary.com, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, definition includes "To cause to begin, especially officially or formally." So this might be an alternative that avoids the argument.

2009/10/27
12:27pm
TStegall
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When I was in high school 20 years ago we all wore bobos and they were shoes. They were the plain white shoes (similar to Keds) but were not marked, and very inexpensive, usually only worn a few times then replaced. Being the 80s we of course wore them with wildly colored socks too!

I went to school in Tampa Florida

My daughter is 17 in Atlanta and she uses bobo to describe something that is cheap or poorly made – a rickety chair would be “all bobo”, or a sloppy project board (like a science project) is “bobo” which is why they got a bad grade.

Just thought I’d share.

Love your show!!

Tracy Stegall

2009/10/27
5:52pm
Martha Barnette
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Welcome, Gabor. What does "zeg-zeg" mean?

2009/10/27
5:52pm
Martha Barnette
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Tatiana, thanks for "Mary Shelley." I think we'll share a few of these in a future show.

2009/10/27
5:53pm
Martha Barnette
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Johng423, I was LOL at that – thanks! Also like your suggestion about "inaugural." Maybe we'll revisit that one, too.

2009/10/27
5:55pm
Martha Barnette
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Thanks for the kind words, Tracy (and for reminding me about the good ol' days of PF Flyers and Red Ball Jets)!

2009/10/27
10:25pm
Ron Draney
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johng423 said:

COLORS:
1. Some companies used to name colors in a way that was clever but still identifiable. The examples I remember are "Zane grey" and "tuckered-out plum."
2. An old story tells of a husband and wife getting ready for a yard sale.
She suggested they print up fliers in an attention-getting color like "sunflower."
"Why do you have to give it a fancy name?" he replied irritably. "Just call it 'yellow'."
When they get to the copy center, he took control and spoke up first: "We want 20 copies of this on YELLOW paper."
To which the clerk responded, "Did you mean 'marigold'?"


The short-lived Apple //c computer came in what the company insisted was "snow beige". The rest of the world thought it just looked "white".

Also short-lived was an early 70s sitcom based on Thorne Smith's "Turnabout" in which a couple (John Schuck and Sharon Gless) got their minds swapped into each other's bodies by a mischievous magical statue. While trying to live his wife's life as an executive for a cosmetics company, the husband was told that the main thing to remember was that you needed to come up each year with twenty new words for "red".

2009/10/28
7:58am
ArteNow
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In listening to the bit about cranberries in odd places, I remembered a trip I did to Washington state a number of years ago. I was driving up the west coast, stopping wherever something looked interesting. I ran across a cranberry research station in the southwest corner of the state and decided to check it out. They had a brochure stand out by the main plots for a self-guided tour.

One of the things I learned there is that not all cranberries are harvested by flooding the plot so the berries will float. Dry-harvested berries are used in cranberry sauce and juice. Wet-harvested berries are sold fresh. I assume because the berries get more beat-up by the dry process and look/last better if they're wet harvested.

ArteNow

2009/10/28
7:16pm
T-tom
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I heard the discussion about the word "gringo". The story I have always read is that during the Mexican American war, the US troops marching through the country sang a popular song: "Green goes the grass as they go". The term has been used ever since as a derogatory term for Americans of Anglo ancestry. It is definitely an ethnic slur.

2009/10/29
8:32am
ArteNow
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T-tom – 'gringo' isn't necessarily a slur, although it certainly can be, depending on where you are. I think in Mexico it's much more of a slur than in some other places.

I've spent a fair amount of time in El Salvador over the years and (at least among the people I'm interacting with) 'gringo' is used as a simple descriptor and sometimes a term of affection. One time, a group I was with was traveling with the Bishop and one of our party overheard him referring to us as 'gringitos' with an affectionate smile on his face. He was a very kind man and would not have used any form of the word if he'd considered it a slur.

2009/10/30
8:29am
Christopher Murray
Ireland
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The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize winners were awarded at the 19th First Annual ceremony on October 1.

2009/10/30
8:38am
Christopher Murray
Ireland
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Concerning translating spoken language into written, Emma Hardman gave a good description of what is involved in recording parliamentary proceedings in Australia on an ABC (Australia) programme Lingua Franca. She makes it clear that a verbatim transcript would not clearly represent what was said.

2009/10/31
2:16pm
sita108
Denton, Tx
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I was raised using the word bobo to mean someone that is stupid. Someone could be a bobo, or a bobo-head. We also use the word stupid to refer to something that is cheap. Like if I got a toy that was just a cheaply made item, or a little trinket, we would have said it was a stupid little toy.

It would just make sense then, if bobo=stupid=cheap.

2009/10/31
9:19pm
Goheels
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As a linguistics minor at UNC I greatly appreciated the anti-prescriptivism bit of this show as well as the shout-out to Dr. Eble. :)

2009/11/02
2:35pm
wackel
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If you enjoy color names, check out the names of iris hybrids, such as those found at the "Catalog" link in bluebirdhavenirisgarden.com. Some examples:
GIGGLEPOT
WHITE ARTS
MEET THE BOSS
SAUCY SUE
KILT LILT
SEASHELL MUSIC
LACED LEMONADE
RETURN TO ELEGANCE
WYOMISSING
MIND BEND

2009/11/07
4:44pm
jedwardcooper
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TStegall said:

When I was in high school 20 years ago we all wore bobos and they were shoes. They were the plain white shoes (similar to Keds) but were not marked, and very inexpensive, usually only worn a few times then replaced. Being the 80s we of course wore them with wildly colored socks too!

I went to school in Tampa Florida


In elementary and middle school in the eighties I remember singing about those shoes:
"bobos--they make your feet feel fine--bobos--they coss a dollar ninetey nine!"
This was in Elkton, MD

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