If you’ve eaten crispy chicken, you might also have had jo-jo potatoes. Speaking of chicken, ever wonder why colonel isn’t pronounced KOH-loh-nell? Grant and Martha have the answers to those nagging little questions, like the difference between a turnpike and a highway and the rules on me versus I. Who’s behind eponyms in anatomy and why are doctors phasing them out? Plus, a newsy limerick challenge, dog breed mashups, pallets, a little Spanglish, and enough -ologies to fill a course catalog!

This episode first aired December 10, 2011.

Download the MP3.

Ologies
What’s your favorite -ology? Perhaps alethiology, the study of truth, from the Greek alethia? Theologians might concern themselves with naology, the study of holy buildings.

Jo-Jo Potatoes
What are jo-jo potatoes? Starting in the 1960s, fried potato wedges took that name in some of the Northern states. Jo-jos were often served in restaurants that also made a type of chicken which requires a special type of deep-fat fryer. Jo-jos are simply unpeeled potato wedges thrown in the fryer, but the name may have derived from the idea of “junk,” because the potato scraps were considered worthless until restaurateurs realized they could be marketed and sold.

Perissology
We’ll keep this short: perissology is the superfluity of words.

Colonel Pronunciation
Why is “colonel” pronounced like “kernel”? The original form comes from Italy, where a colonello was in charge of a column of soldiers. As the word moved from Italian to French, it took on an r sound, but the English translators reverted to the more etymologically correct Italian spelling. That’s why it looks one way but sounds another.

Dog-Breed Blends
What do you get when you mix a shelty and a cocker? A shocker! Or how about a dachshund and a border collie? That’d make it a dashboard. We don’t want to know what you’d call a cross between a pit bull and shih tzu.

Current-Event Limerick Quiz
Hope you’ve been checking the headlines, because our Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a new set of current-event limericks. What’s been “occupied?” How long did the Kardashian marriage last? And who made ambiguous the definition of the word “winning”?

Pallet
A thick blanket or stack of blankets is also called a pallet. The Dictionary of American Regional English says this term is most common in the South Midlands — such states as Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri. In the New American Standard Bible (John 5:8) Jesus says to a man who’s been incapacitated for nearly 40 years, “Pick up your pallet and walk.” The term comes from French, where a pallet was a thick, woven mat of hay to lie on.

Me vs. I, Object vs. Subject
The usage of the word me vs. I will always be a point of debate. Grant and Martha contend that language works in the service of culture, and thus, there will always be informal settings where the words me and I are slung around interchangeably. Then again, there will also be classrooms, job interviews and the like, where “my colleague and I completed the project” is the better choice than “me and my colleague completed the project.”

Kalology
Aesthetes might go for kalology, or “the study of beauty.”

Turnpike
What’s the difference between a turnpike and a highway? In the 1700s, privately funded roads were constructed in the Northeast to connect commercial centers, but tolls were charged in order to pay for the wood planks that covered the road; this was well before gravel or pavement came about. A turnpike itself is the bar on a turnstile, much like you’d see in a subway station or an amusement park. One pays the toll then moves through the turnpike. On the other hand, freeways were the dirt roads that didn’t require a toll.

Anatomical Eponyms
Anatomy is full of eponyms — that is, words inspired by the name of a person. For examples, there are the fallopian tubes, the Achilles heel, and the eustachian tubes. But there’s a movement in anatomy to replace eponyms with more scientific, descriptive names. Thus, fallopian tubes are now uterine tubes and eustachian tubes are auditory tubes.

Frajos
The Spanglish term frajo, meaning “cigarette,” evolved over a couple of generations of Mexican-American language. Primarily thanks to pachucos, sometimes known as zoot-suiters, the term developed from the verb fajar, meaning “to wrap up or roll.”

A Murmuration
A flock of starlings is called a murmuration, and a beautiful video of a murmuration of starlings flying about has been described by Martha as “nature’s ornithological lava lamp.”

Litotes
If you’re looking for a clever way to straddle the glass-half-empty line, try using litotes, or understated slights turned positive. For example, the guy you met for a blind date was really not unattractive.

Uredinology
If you’re into fungus among us, you might enjoy uredinology, the study of rust molds.

Nutty Nuts
Why do we refer to people of questionable sanity as nuts, nutty, or nut-cases? In the early 1600s, a nut was considered something “pleasing” or “delightful.” Its meaning then transferred to someone who liked something pleasing, and then someone obsessed with that thing to the point of eccentricity or weirdness.

Zygology
Zygology? That’s the study of joining or fastening.

Photo by little blue hen. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Broadcast

Dictionary of American Regional English
New American Standard Bible

Music Used in the Broadcast

Title Artist Album Label
Knitting Gary Pacific Orchestra Movement in Rhythm / Rhythm At Random Bosworth Music
The Game of Death John Barry Bruce Lee’s Game Of Death (Original Soundtrack) Bruce Lee’s Game Of Death (Original Soundtrack)
The Rock Atomic Rooster The Rock 45rpm Phillips
A Man And A Woman David McCallum Music – It’s Happening Now Capitol Records
A Fool In Line Starbuck Rock’n Roll Rocket Private Stock
Mellow, Mellow Right On Lowrell Mellow, Mellow Right On 45rpm AVI Records
If I Were a Carpenter David McCallum Music – It’s Happening Now Capitol Records
Don’t Ask My Neighbors Ahmad Jamal Genetic Walk 20th Century Fox Records
Mr. Funky Samba Banda Black Rio Maria Fumaqua Atlantic
Shoreline Drive Sammy Nestico Dark Orchid Dark Orchid Jazz
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gerswin Songbook Verve

25 Responses

  1. Ron Draney says:

    Grant Barrett said:

    Anatomy is full of eponyms — that is, words inspired by the name of a person. In this case, there are the fallopian tubes, the Achilles heel, and the eustachian tubes. But there’s a movement in anatomy to replace eponyms with more scientific, descriptive names. Thus, fallopian tubes are now uterine tubes and eustachian tubes are auditory tubes.

    I can’t say I approve of where this is heading. I put in all that effort learning to say Hansen’s disease instead of leprosy and now I have to go back?

    And if someone is choking, am I going to have to ask if anyone knows how to perform the abdominal thrust maneuver?

  2. Kaa says:

    I believe Florida has a turnpike, but it’s been a long time since I drove anywhere in Florida. :)

  3. dilettante says:

    I first heard “litotes” in Monty Python’s “Piranha Brothers” sketch.

    “He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and… satire. He was vicious.”

  4. Gary Syck says:

    I work at a large software company in the northwest. We, like anatomists,
    have a large vocabulary of specialty language. Sometimes, we invent words where
    a new word is not really needed. For example, when a function that programs
    call should not be called anymore, a civilian might call it,
    “Obsolete.” In the software industry, we would use the term,
    “Deprecated.”

    This usage bothers me for two reasons. One, the word, “Obsolete”
    perfectly covers the case. Two, “Deprecated” already has a meaning
    and it does not match this usage. As part of my campaign to change this, I did
    some research and I found that the new usage was started by a competitor to
    where I work. So, not only are we using the wrong word, we are supporting
    someone else’s mistake.

    My arguments fell on deaf ears. People insisted that the jargon was
    necessary as it covered a very specific case in a technical area. OK, I decided
    that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. If people wanted jargon, I would give
    them jargon, but I would use a term that is already in the dictionary with the
    right definition – defenestrated. Look it up and you will be able to guess
    where I work.

  5. Glenn says:

    Gary Syck said:

    defenestrated. Look it up and you will be able to guess
    where I work.

    Syck. Very Syck.

    Welcome.

    In another life, another software company, we would call such functions vestigial. The word vestigial provides no clever clue to that company’s name. But, I can see some sense in the word depreciated, in the accounting meaning of depreciation. The function once was of value, which diminished over time, until now it has no value at all. It has become fully depreciated — a write-off.

    I am always happy to see the word defenestrate put to constructive use. I will give it a try around my work — we’re on the 27th floor — and let you know how it is received.

  6. EmmettRedd says:

    Gary Syck said:

    defenestrated. Look it up

    When I did, it made me think of the old (Ozarkian?) saying: He was so poor he did not have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.

    Emmett

  7. Lee says:

    Gary Syck said:

    defenestrated. Look it up and you will be able to guess
    where I work.

    Syck. Very Syck.

    Welcome.

    In another life, another software company, we would call such functions vestigial. The word vestigial provides no clever clue to that company’s name. But, I can see some sense in the word depreciated, in the accounting meaning of depreciation. The function once was of value, which diminished over time, until now it has no value at all. It has become fully depreciated — a write-off.

    I am always happy to see the word defenestrate put to constructive use. I will give it a try around my work — we’re on the 27th floor — and let you know how it is received.

     

    @Glenn – it’s actually deprecated, as in self-deprecation, not depreciated, as in a tax writeoff. (Ironically, self-deprecation really means self-depreciation, in the current usage!)

     

    @Gary – my understanding of the term deprecate as used in software is that it is intended to mean exactly what the primary definition of deprecate is: to strongly disapprove of. Deprecated functions are not obsolete in the sense that they are no longer available to be called – they are present for compatibility purposes, but the writer of the API would much rather a programmer call the newer, replacement function rather than the old, deprecated one. To me, obsolete and defenestrated  both carry an implication of unavailability – but perhaps that’s just me…

  8. telemath says:

    Deprecated is a common in my software industry, too.   I think I’ve even seen it in manuals and in compiler warnings.   (“Warning: snprintf is deprecated.   Use _snprintf instead”).

     

    The code that is left over that no one understands but which everyone has to deal with is “legacy” code.   It’s never used in a positive light.

  9. ltw246 says:

    I have some rather  negative  feelings about the use of “murmuration” for a  group  of starlings. The OED does give “group of starlings” as the third definition of murmuration, but notes that it is “One of many alleged group terms found in late Middle English glossarial sources, but not otherwise substantiated. Revived and popularized in the 20th cent.” In other words some monk in the 1400s was tired of going to vespers and instead spent the evening making up fanciful names for animal groups. Such is akin to my suddenly announcing that the “real” name for a group of  prairie  dogs is a “gazorentplatz.”

    The OED also lists “a group or gathering of ostlers” as a definition for laughter. Yet no one would now talk about a “laughter of ostlers” if he or she wanted to be understood. I acknowledge that, as stated in the OED, the use of murmuration for a  group  of starlings did come into actual rather than alleged use in the 20th century and hence is a valid, though in my opinion, an ill-begotten usage.

    I understand that language changes and sometimes it must change, but sometimes it shouldn’t. Other than perhaps as a rare poetic usage, “murmuration of starlings” makes no useful distinction. A bunch of starlings is a flock — just like crows, pigeons, or any other birds.

    Nothing personal Martha. You just happened on one of my very obscure and probably incorrect pet peeves.

    I’d be interested in knowing how others feel about this point. Am I a crank? Overly fastidious? Badly informed? Reactionary?

    EOR (end of rant)

    ltw

  10. dilettante says:

    Some people may have heard of “pallet”, meaning a stack of blankets, from the song “You Made Me a Pallet on The Floor”:

    http://www.songlyrics.com/the-weavers/you-made-me-a-pallet-on-the-floor-lyrics/

  11. Dick says:

    dilettante said:

    Some people may have heard of “pallet”, meaning a stack of blankets, from the song “You Made Me a Pallet on The Floor”:

     

    A pallet means a temporary bed.   Several of the references I checked mentioned a straw mattress.   I’m sure a stack of blankets could be a pallet if it were used as a bed, but a pallet is not a group of blankets.   I think a group of blankets may be called a “stack”.

  12. EmmettRedd says:

    Concerning a murmuration of starlings:

    A few years ago, to keep starlings from roosting in the trees, our campus blasted starling distress cries from the football stadium sound system. It sure did not sound like a murmur.

    Emmett

  13. Latzen says:

    I had to register just for this. While I did not know the origin of “turnpike” (which I now know…excellent!) I do have insight on whether or not there are turnpikes outside the northeast.

     

    There are! West of the Mississippi, specifically, Kansas has the aptly named Kansas Turnpike, which is the tolled portions of I-70, I-335, and I-35 that take you from Kansas City down into Oklahoma. Oklahoma, likewise, tolls several highways, notably I-44, which is subsequently called the Will Rogers Turnpike, the Turner Turnpike, and the H.E. Bailey Turnpike as you motor southwest from Missouri to Texas. There you’ll also find the Cimarron, Cherokee, Indian Nation, Muskogee, John Kilpatrick and Chickasaw Turnpikes.

     

    Colorado has a tolled beltway around Denver (the E-470) but I’ve never seen or heard it referred to as a turnpike. To my knowledge, it is true to say that there aren’t any turnpikes west of the Rockies.

     

    Why do I know this stuff? When you pay out of pocket for a 5 axle commercial truck to use these roads (thankfully, I get reimbursed), the names tend to stick with you.

     

    By the way, the justification for these west-of-the-Mississippi turnpikes is the same as it’s been since the beginning; available funds for maintenance aren’t adequate to keep up the road. I hope my (or, ultimately, the company’s) $33 for the trip from the Missouri line to OKC goes to fill a worthy pothole.

  14. EmmettRedd says:

    This member and his father helped build the Cimarron Turnpike in 1973 and 1974 while working for the Koss Construction Company.

    Emmett

  15. bklvr says:

    First, just chiming in on the turnpike turnup: http://www.ksturnpike.com/ No pikes now, and unless you’re in the automatic K-Tag pass lane, there’s not even a lowered bar; we stop and pay the person at the tollbooth on our way west out of KC to Topeka. (And I just gave away 2 copies of The Phantom Tollbooth for Christmas–thinking about Martha B’s recent reading!)

    ‘me and my friends went’–I learned in school (1970s, 1980s) that ‘I’ should be last in the line, as a matter of courtesy and humility, letting others go through the door first, as it were.
    I was surprised that you didn’t at least mention on the show (though I believe you have in the past?) the difference between the place of subject vs. object–real meaning as the origin of the sense of ‘correctness’ there, and that testing it without the friends–’me went to the store’ doesn’t sound informal but entirely wrong, which is what makes the Cookie Monster so funny. Well, that along with his two other rule-breakings–eating messily, and wanting sweets (which they later tried to balance out with veggies, of course). 8D

  16. Glenn says:

    Regarding the order of conjoined subjects or objects, my schooling took it even further. I was taught that you must but second person first, third person next, and first person last (of course, omitting any that are not relevant to the context).

    So, according to my teachers it should be:

    You, Chris, Leslie, and I are going to regret this evening.
    The prosecutor is going light on you, Pat, Lee, and me.
    How are you, Alex, the dog, and I going to fit in this sewer?
    The orangutan and I clearly need to keep an eye on you, Jo, and the horse.

    The reasons I was given were all along the lines of “propriety,” rather than grammar. But we were still graded on getting it right. In my adult life, I always took this word order as being a suggestion, rather than a rule. Some sentences make “propriety” seem like a pretty small matter.

  17. bklvr says:

    EmmettRedd said:

    Concerning a murmuration of starlings:

    A few years ago, to keep starlings from roosting in the trees, our campus blasted starling distress cries from the football stadium sound system. It sure did not sound like a murmur.

    Emmett

    Funny! Used as a deterrent to birds or to people?!

    In the children’s book Gobble Growl Grunt by Peter Spier, each page has numerous varied animals making lots of different sounds. Then there’s the spread that is only starlings in a tree, saying all over the pages, “Fweet? Sweet? Fee-you,” reminding me of the clamor of a rather loud murmuration in my yard at my feeders or roosting in a tree I pass under on my dawn walk. (Such quirky little characters, those European starlings, but it’s unfortunate, how the introduced species intrudes on native birds.)

  18. EmmettRedd says:

    bklvr said:

    –’me went to the store’ doesn’t sound informal but entirely wrong, which is what makes the Cookie Monster so funny. Well, that along with his two other rule-breakings–eating messily, and wanting sweets (which they later tried to balance out with veggies, of course). 8D

    Could it be that Cookie Monster is the source of “me and …”? After all, kids may have been learning his speech rather than realizing he was being funny.

    Emmett

  19. robsamui says:

    Glenn said:

    Gary Syck said:

    defenestrated. Look it up and you will be able to guess
    where I work.

    Syck. Very Syck.

    Welcome.

    In another life, another software company, we would call such functions vestigial. The word vestigial provides no clever clue to that company’s name. But, I can see some sense in the word depreciated, in the accounting meaning of depreciation. The function once was of value, which diminished over time, until now it has no value at all. It has become fully depreciated — a write-off.

    I am always happy to see the word defenestrate put to constructive use. I will give it a try around my work — we’re on the 27th floor — and let you know how it is received.

    I simply adore defenestration. Sad that, due to the proliferation of security cameras and DNA  data banks, it’s become less popular of late.

    On a  passing  note – it’s  usually  received at ground level.

  20. robsamui says:

    Glenn said:

    You’re everso close to the basic Latin construction with this:

    Regarding the order of conjoined subjects or objects, my schooling took it even further. I was taught that you must but second person first, third person next, and first person last (of course, omitting any that are not relevant to the context).

    So, according to my teachers it should be:

    You, Chris, Leslie, and I are going to regret this evening.

    You, Chris, Leslie, and I, to regret this evening, are.

    The prosecutor is going light on you, Pat, Lee, and me.

    The prosecutor, on    you, Pat, Lee, and me is going

    How are you, Alex, the dog, and I going to fit in this sewer?

    erm . . . in aqueductus, Alex, canus et ego commudua est (??????!)

    The orangutan and I clearly need to keep an eye on you, Jo, and the horse.

    Ah a challenge.  Simia large et ego, you Jo,  havere ocula ecce (!)

    Very similar to Master Yoda on Starwars?

    The reasons I was given were all along the lines of “propriety,” rather than grammar. But we were still graded on getting it right. In my adult life, I always took this word order as being a suggestion, rather than a rule. Some sentences make “propriety” seem like a pretty small matter.

    And, although this might be formally correct, nobody actually talks like this, anyway!

  21. hippogriff says:

    My objection to abandoning anatomical eponyms is that a proper name is the same in any language, whereas the substitution is Anglophone arrogance. I suspect this may have started with the death of King George VI from Buerger’s disease. At the time, this was associated in the popular mind with smoking, as almost all cases were smokers. Suddenly, the corporate media changed from eponym to symptom with thromboangiitis obliterans – possibly under orders from the Tobacco Institute whose members spent considerable money on advertising in those media. The symptomatics are also much longer and frequently unpronounceable on quick reading – part of what a friend of mine called the “witchdoctor syndrome” – that which has no or even negative medical effect, but enhances the status of the doctor in a given situation.

    Dog breeds: A feral dog (whatever breed) and coyote cross is called a coydog and they are a major problem to livestock.

    Texas has largely escaped the turnpike term because of the extensive use of tollway or toll road. It is interesting that Dallas is somewhat encircled by the LBJ freeway and the more recent President George Bush Tollway.

  22. Bob Bridges says:

    hippogriff said
    My objection to abandoning anatomical eponyms is that a proper name is the same in any language, whereas the substitution is Anglophone arrogance.

    “Arrogance” is a motive, not an act; it’s arrogant only if you do it for arrogant reasons.   There may be good reasons.   And even if it’s arrogance, the arrogance is Anglophonic only if you replace the eponym with an English term, that is, a term that uses English roots.   If you use Latin or Greek roots, it’s much more likely to be internationally recognizable.

    No?   You think Latin isn’t nearly so international a language nowadays as, say…English?   Maybe a term that uses English roots isn’t so arrogant after all.

    However, I really joined this thread not to be quarrelsome but to look at “murmuration”.   I enjoy all those terms—a pod of whales, a mob of joeys, a warren of rabbits and so on—but like ltw246, I think a lot of them were just invented a few centuries ago.   My own mental image is of British literati in the late 1700s suddenly having a fad of making up fun new names for odd creatures—an exultation of larks, a crash of rhinocerates, a murder of crows.   Then the fad died away, only to be rediscovered in the 20th century, when it was noised abroad that the proper term for a group of sparrows is a “quarrel”.

    An article at http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/collectives.htm leads me to believe I’m not far off, except it was three centuries earlier than my guess.

  23. RobertB says:

    a list of the correct terms to describe groups of various types of animals:
    http://www.rinkworks.com/words/collective.shtml

  24. ltw246 says:

    The collective names at the link above are interesting and can be fun to think about, but for the most part they are fanciful — and quite  arbitrary  — rather than “correct.” I would be very surprised to find that a group of peacocks was ever referred to as an “ostentation” in any scientific or technical literature.

     

    Tom

  25. RobertB says:

    I have never come across ‘ostentation of peacocks’ before today. But guess what, the very first page from Google books gives 2 books, in 2006 and 2011, that have direct uses of it– use mind you, not reference for discussions!

    Now that I have looked up and down at it a bit, it actually sounds kind of good, not so exotic anymore– the internalizing process is kicking in.

    Now I’ll go work on an implausibility of gnus.’

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