Can children adopted from other countries easily re-learn their native languages as adults? And if you’re invited to an old-fashioned pound party, what should you bring? Also, regional names for those wheeled contraptions you use at the grocery, summer reading recommendations, and a breed of cat that’s supposed to bring you riches and good luck. Plus, the Tour de Franzia (as in boxed wine), police slang from the 1940’s, mnemonics, and a breed of cat that brings good luck and riches!

This episode first aired June 9, 2012.

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 Mnemonics
Always remember: Martha never ever makes ornery noises in church. That is, of course, a mnemonic for the spelling of “mnemonic.”

 Pound Party
When would you give a pounding to someone in need? When you’re talking about a community coming together to give food staples to, say, the new family in town or a new bride and groom. The term pounding, also known as a pound party, derives from the early practice of bringing foodstuffs by the pound. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling, once wrote about a pound party, albeit one with a surprise ending.

 Words for Drunk
What slang do you use for “getting drunk”? Paul Dickson has collected his share of terms for being drunk, as have, surprisingly enough, college students. How about slizzered, schwasted, or riding in the Tour de Franzia?

 All Get-Out
If it’s cold as all get-out, you’ll probably want to get to someplace warmer. The “get-out” in this informal expression might refer to being out in front, as in “the winner of all cold days,” or it could be a mashup of “Doesn’t that beat all!” and “Get out!” It’s just one of many terms we use to describe cold temperatures.

 Dorothy Parker Book Reviews
You don’t want Dorothy Parker reviewing your novel — at least not when she’s dropping zingers like “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly, it should be thrown with great force.” Parker did have a way with words. How about this description of another birthday rolling around: “This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible, it was terrible with raisins in it.

 Silent E Word Quiz
Our Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a word game about words with a silent “e” and their “e”-sound counterparts. For example, a walking stick and someone good at judging situations might be a canny guy with a cane. Or a guy with a noble title playing with a bathtub water fowl would be a duke with a ducky.

 1946 Police Slang
A Tacoma, Wash., police report from 1946 is chock-full of showy police slang, from the punk on the stem to the handle of the beefer. Read the whole thing here.

 Relearning A Language
Can a child adopted from a foreign country at the age of eight easily relearn her first language as an adult? It seems so. Terri Kit-fong Au describes a group of Korean students in Australia who pick up Korean with ease.

 Gazinta
What do you call the sign used in long division that looks a bit like an awning separating dividend and the divisor? How about a gazinta? As in, two gazinta four twice. Otherwise, you’re stuck with boring terms like long division sign or division bracket.

 Summer 2012 Books
Grant and Martha have summer reading suggestions. Grant’s going through books by great women in show business — Tallulah Bankhead, Mindy Kaling, and Tina Fey. Martha finally got a Kindle, and is starting with Herman Melville’s classic, Moby-Dick! A bit wary of tackling this leviathan of a novel? Nathaniel Philbrick makes an excellent case for why you ought to read Moby-Dick.

 Shopping Buggy
Do you call your cart at the grocery store a shopping cart, a shopping carriage, a grocery cart, or a buggy? The term buggy seems to be particularly widespread in the South.

 Money Cat
What’s a money cat? It’s a regional term for “calico cat,” and it’s particularly common in Maine. The idea goes back to a bit of folklore that calicos bring you good luck.

 Call Hocks
To hox, or hocks, means to call dibs on something, as in “You better hox shotgun if you want to sit up front for the eight-hour drive to Grandma’s!”

 Sly Southern Insult
Here’s a sly Southernism for Sundays: “Each one of his sermons is better than the next.”

 Frustrations
What do you say when you’re frustrated? There’s always, “I’ll be jumped up and down, bowlegged, and Johnny Busheart!” Or “For cryin’ out loud and weepin’ in public!”

 Lousy With
What does it mean to be lousy with, as in “She was lousy with diamonds”? Lousy comes from the English word louse, as in lice. To be lousy with means “to have lots of something.”

Photo by Polycart. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Broadcast

The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tallulah by Tallulah Bankhead
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Music Used in the Broadcast

Title Artist Album Label
Great Stone Bottle Ronnie Kole Trio New Orleans… Today Paula Records
Suction On The Spot Trio Suction 45rpm Colemine Records
Darkness, Darkness Phil Upchurch Darkness, Darkness Blue Thumb Records
Easter Parade Jimmy McGriff Step One Solid State
Tomorrow’s Fashions Geoff Bastow Tomorrow’s World Bruton Music
Step One Jimmy McGriff Step One Solid State
My Favorite Beer Joint Pt 1 Don Julian and The Larks My Favorite Beer Joint Pt 1 45rpm Money Records
Dance George Benson Body Talk CTI
She Is My Lady Eric Gale Ginseng Woman Columbia Records
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book Verve
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20 Responses

  1. Alice.Radley says:

    I’ve lived all over the country, and have always called the thing in the grocery store a shopping cart. When I lived in Massachusetts, some of the locals called it a carriage. My husband is from England, and I lived in London with him. They call it a shopping trolley.

  2. Maggie C. says:

    As a musician, I commonly use mnemonic phrases. A few that almost every musician knows are:

     

    Every Good Boy Does Fine — Lines on the Treble Cleft “E,” “G,” “B,” ‘D,” and “F”

    Fat Albert Cooks Eggs — Spaces on the Treble Cleft “F,” “A,” “C,” and “E”

    Good Boys Do Fine Always/Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always — Lines on the Bass Cleft “G,” “B,” “D,” “F,” and “A”

    All Cars Eat Gas/All Cows Eat Grass — Spaces on the Bass Cleft “A,” “C,” “E,” and “G”

     

    Most people use the acronym F.A.C.E. for the Spaces on the Treble Cleft, but I have heard this one out of one or two musicians in WV, where I lived for a few years. I now live in AK where I commonly hear All Cars Eat Cass instead of All Cows Eat Grass, but I suppose that’s because there aren’t many, if any, cows around here. I wonder how many mnemonics are regional like that?

     

    My Grandma, who was raised and still lives in southern WV, uses the term “buggy” for the thing you put your grocery in at the store and push around. My family calls it a grocery cart, we occasionally use the term “buggy” but it’s not all that common. Does anyone know where the word “buggy,” used for a car or shopping cart, or anything with wheels, comes from?

  3. hippogriff says:

    Mnemonics: On old Olympus’ tiny top, a Finn and German viewed some hops. The nerves that connect directly to the brain rather than through the spine, from olfactory to hypoglossal. A good parlor game or word puzzle is to give the mnemonic phrase and have the others guess what subject it is for remembering – extra points for giving each separate one. And a question deriving from Maggie’s post, is “cleft” a regionalism? I had always seen it “clef” from the French for key, as in “roman à …”, treble indicating where G (above middle C) is inside the spiral, and F (below middle C) indicated by the line between the two dots. There is also an alto or tenor clef with two spirals indicating where middle C is – alto used by violas, the tenor by first and sometimes second trombone. These are strictly orchestral, and virtually never used in band music, although some medieval scores might have them all over the staff, but still indicating middle C, thus a form of mnemonic themselves.

     

    I know poundings because I was actually the recipient of one once, although I must admit it was, in 1940, more an act of nostalgia than of necessity, but nonetheless welcome. My father was a minister and started in 1925 on a rural circuit where poundings were literally lifesavers. The minimum salary then was $300 – a year. My father was originally apprenticed as a watchmaker/jeweler and had a thriving business. My maternal grandfather was a locomotive engineer when that had the status of an airline pilot today. A five-point circuit was a major culture shock for both my parents to suddenly be in a parsonage without water or electricity. Their first pounding involved, among other surprises, the kitchen filled with live chickens.

     

    Terms depend on the degree of intoxication from buzzed (showing only slight symptoms) to potted (barely conscious); a vocabulary all its own.

     

    Probably Parker’s most devastating review was of Katherine Hepburn in The Lake: “Miss Hepburn ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.” She obviously survived/outgrew the review.

     

    Gazinta: No. Either spell out “goes into” (only one letter and a space longer) or reverse the order as “four divided by two is two”. For the symbol, division sign is quite adequate and known by most of those with whom you may be communicating. I like odd language as much as any, but the main purpose is still communication.  

     

    In North Texas, it was always grocery cart. They never appeared anywhere except grocery stores until quite recently, when they came with the “big box” lumber/hardware/appliance/tool/etc. stores. Before that, the term was only used for groceries, and buggies required a horse, although carts might also use oxen, ponies, or even dogs, goats or humans in the outdoor versions.

     

    Sermons better than the next: considering next comes later than the reference point, I would say it is going down hill fast.

  4. Maggie C. says:

    hippogriff said:

     And a question deriving from Maggie’s post, is “cleft” a regionalism? I had always seen it “clef” from the French for key, as in “roman à …”, treble indicating where G (above middle C) is inside the spiral, and F (below middle C) indicated by the line between the two dots. There is also an alto or tenor clef with two spirals indicating where middle C is – alto used by violas, the tenor by first and sometimes second trombone. These are strictly orchestral, and virtually never used in band music, although some medieval scores might have them all over the staff, but still indicating middle C, thus a form of mnemonic themselves.

    I think my computer just auto corrected what I accidentally spelled “cleff” to “cleft,” sorry for the confusion… But now that you mention it, I have heard people in my church pronounce it with a “T.” Is it possible that they are doing that because of the “cleft” in verses like Exodus 33:22, where it says “I will put you in the cleft of the rock,” and just got used to saying it that way?

  5. Heimhenge says:

    Here’s another mnemonic few forum members will probably know. It was taught to me by an electrical engineering professor in college, but has long since become politically incorrect. It was used to recall the color codes labeling electrical resistors:

    Bad Boys Rape Ordinary Young Girls But Violet Gives Willingly.

    For: black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, grey, white.

    Of course, back in those days, there were virtually no female electrical engineers, but I knew some other male students who also found it offensive. So we came up with our own slightly modified version:

    Brave Boys Rescue Ordinary Young Girls But Violet Goes Wisely.

    Works for me, even though I haven’t had to read a resistor color code in ages.

  6. Dick says:

    hippogriff said:

    In North Texas, it was always grocery cart. They never appeared anywhere except grocery stores until quite recently, when they came with the “big box” lumber/hardware/appliance/tool/etc. stores. Before that, the term was only used for groceries, and buggies required a horse, although carts might also use oxen, ponies, or even dogs, goats or humans in the outdoor versions.

     

    This goes to show that nobody can speak for a whole region.   My mother’s family lived in Fort Worth (north Texas) at least back to the 1910s and the only term I ever heard them use was “buggy” for grocery carts.   My mother tried to change her own way of saying it to “grocery cart” sometime in the 1980s or 90s when she was over 60 years old because that seemed to be the “new” name to call it, but she always slipped back to “buggy”.   Now all I hear is “cart”.

  7. EmmettRedd says:

    Heimhenge said:

    Here’s another mnemonic few forum members will probably know. It was taught to me by an electrical engineering professor in college, but has long since become politically incorrect. It was used to recall the color codes labeling electrical resistors:

    Bad Boys Rape Ordinary Young Girls But Violet Gives Willingly.

    For: black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, grey, white.

    Of course, back in those days, there were virtually no female electrical engineers, but I knew some other male students who also found it offensive. So we came up with our own slightly modified version:

    Brave Boys Rescue Ordinary Young Girls But Violet Goes Wisely.

    Works for me, even though I haven’t had to read a resistor color code in ages.

    Another non-offensive one (unless one is a socialist/communist): Better Be Right Or Your Great Big Venture Goes Wrong.

    Emmett

  8. Mary Mac says:

    “Gazinta” has a separate life in the land of television engineering.

    It is used to describe the function of different equipment cables and connectors;

    its companion word is “Gazoutta”.

  9. Christopher Murray says:

    When there were nine planets in the Solar System, we had “My Very Earnest Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets.” After Pluto was reclassified, the teacher of one of my daughters (then aged eight or nine, I think) asked them to come up with a new mnemonic as homework. Between us, we came up with

    Most Visual Entertainment Media Just Show Utter Nonsense.

    I came up with

    Mercenary Victoria Earns Money Just Showing Up Naked.

    She didn’t approve of that one!

  10. Ron Draney says:

    I’m surprised that during the “gazinta” discussion nobody brought up the other division symbol ÷, the one that represents a fraction with a dot in place of both numerator and denominator. To go along with “vinculum”, this one’s called an obelus.

    I’ve been trying on and off for some time now to get the short name morn adopted for the “greater than” sign >. For example, in reading out the symbolic statement (x ²-25)/5>0, you’d say x squared minus twenty-five, divided by five, is morn zero.

  11. carolsj says:

    Hearing the part about “Jumped up and down”, reminded me of a saying that went around when I was in high school in Queens in the fifties. It was not so euphemistic an expression of surprise or disbelief. “Jesus H Christ mahogany in spades and a half!” I know “in spades” indicates an extreme and adding a half makes it more so. But I have no idea where “mahogany” comes from.

  12. carolsj says:

    Ron Draney said:

    I’m surprised that during the “gazinta” discussion nobody brought up the other division symbol ÷, the one that represents a fraction with a dot in place of both numerator and denominator. To go along with “vinculum”, this one’s called an obelus.

    I’ve been trying on and off for some time now to get the short name morn adopted for the “greater than” sign >. For example, in reading out the symbolic statement (x ²-25)/5>0, you’d say x squared minus twenty-five, divided by five, is morn zero.

    If > is morn, then is < lezen?

  13. basia says:

    Maggie C. said:

    hippogriff said:

     And a question deriving from Maggie’s post, is “cleft” a regionalism? I had always seen it “clef” from the French for key, as in “roman à …”, treble indicating where G (above middle C) is inside the spiral, and F (below middle C) indicated by the line between the two dots. There is also an alto or tenor clef with two spirals indicating where middle C is – alto used by violas, the tenor by first and sometimes second trombone. These are strictly orchestral, and virtually never used in band music, although some medieval scores might have them all over the staff, but still indicating middle C, thus a form of mnemonic themselves.

    I think my computer just auto corrected what I accidentally spelled “cleff” to “cleft,” sorry for the confusion… But now that you mention it, I have heard people in my church pronounce it with a “T.” Is it possible that they are doing that because of the “cleft” in verses like Exodus 33:22, where it says “I will put you in the cleft of the rock,” and just got used to saying it that way?

    Another music mnemonic I use is for the open strings on the guitar, staring with the bass string first: Eddie Ate Dynamite. Good Bye Eddie! A student gave that to me and it’s my favorite (and most memorable) memory aid!

  14. I love “A Way With Words” but it also frequently causes me teeth gnashing; especially when erroneous statements are made about British words…..for example, I have never seen any example of “mashed” being used for “mashed potatoes”; but rather “Mash”

    In fact a favourite family game, is “Sausage and Mash” . In this game, you take a book (the more boring and academic the book, the better) and take it in turns to read passages, replacing the words beginning with S with sausage, and words beginning with M with mash. A very silly, but hilarious game, enjoyable to all ages!

     

    Shopping Carts are trolleys in Britain.

    Oddly enough, I recently had cause to ponder the  mnemonic   that I have used for 50 years for rainbow colours. I was trying to teach my 6 year old grandson, who lives in Savannah Georgia, how to remember colours of the rainbow and having suggested my mnemonic, I realised that it was fairly useless to him. I was taught “Richard of York Gets Bad Press” (yes, I learned blue rather than indigo, and purple rather than violet). Now, my 8 year old grandson, being raised in North Yorkshire ( England) understood the mnemonic at once!

    I’ve always used the term “pissed as a newt” to denote drunk…although I’ve never met a pissed newt!

    Pissed is one of those words that caused me much confusion my first years in America. Pissed= drunk; pissed OFF= upset.

    I also use “snockered ; slaughtered; and pissed as a lord.”  

    One of my favourite court room stories was of the man before the judge who said  

    “The bloke was as pissed as a judge!!”

    “Don’t you mean pissed as a lord?” said the judge  

    “Yes, m’lord….”  

  15. stevenz says:

    Alice.Radley said:

    I’ve lived all over the country, and have always called the thing in the grocery store a shopping cart. When I lived in Massachusetts, some of the locals called it a carriage. My husband is from England, and I lived in London with him. They call it a shopping trolley.

    I grew up in Philadelphia and always called the thing a shopping basket, and it’s interesting that I don’t see that option anywhere else here. I’m sure that derives from the woven basket that people used to carry to the shops before the wheeled thing was invented. And when I lived in New Zealand I learned that there too it was called a trolley, but secondarily it was called a trundler.

  16. K the G says:

    I’ve always called it a basket in Cincinnati, OH. Still call it a basket.

  17. Etymon says:

    Fiona Siobhan said

    I love “A Way With Words” but it also frequently causes me teeth gnashing; especially when erroneous statements are made about British words…..for example, I have never seen any example of “mashed” being used for “mashed potatoes”; but rather “Mash”

     

    Oh I’m glad you mentioned that, I was listening to the podcast in bed and nearly woke my OH up laughing at that.

    I can understand if someone has heard “Would you like roast potatoes or mashed?” the last ‘potatoes’ being left off as redundant, but the thought of being asked “Would you like chips or mashed?” or a Mum saying “We’re having mashed tonight” struck me as very funny.

     

    I know planets and rainbows have been mentioned, but I was taught variations on the above in junior school (age 10ish) -

    My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets (now I just stop at Naming with a glare as I miss Pluto!)

    and

    Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain.

  18. Yep, that was wrong! The perils of unscripted radio: even things you know don’t always come out just the way you know them.

  19. EmmettRedd says:

    Fiona Siobhan said

    I love “A Way With Words” but it also frequently causes me teeth gnashing; especially when erroneous statements are made about British words…..for example, I have never seen any example of “mashed” being used for “mashed potatoes”; but rather “Mash”
     

    Mash may apply to potatoes in Britian, but it is prepratory to white lightning in US hill country.

    Emmett

  20. There we go! Moonshine made us misspeak. Even Homer has a pull on a jug now and then.

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