Is the term “Oriental” offensive? Where do we get the phrase “not one iota”? Why do we tell someone to “take a gander”? And who coined the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

This episode first aired December 18, 2010.

Download the MP3.

 Man’s Best Friend Paraprosdokian
“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” This kind of sudden, surprising turn in a sentence is called a paraprosdokian. Martha and Grant trade some examples.

Instead of crying “uncle,” an Indiana woman’s family cries calf-rope! She wonders if this expression of submission is unique to her family.

 Take a Gander
Why do we say “take a gander” for “have a look”?

 Paraprosdokian Quotes
Will Rogers was a master of paraprosdokians. Martha shares a favorite, as well as one from comedian Mitch Hedberg.

 Too Much Sugar
“Too much sugar for a dime” can mean either “too good to be true,” or “more trouble than it’s worth.” Merle Travis and Judy Hayden sing about it.

 Radio Puzzle Hunt Game
Quiz Guy John Chaneski reprises his popular “Puzzle Hunt” game.

 Political Correctness of “Oriental”
A Chinese-American says she’s not offended by the term “Oriental,” but she’s been told she should be. Who’s right?

 Not One Iota
The expression “not one iota” means not one bit. Martha explains that it goes back to ancient Greek, and explains its connection to the Sermon on the Mount.

 Different Uses of Peruse
A caller was taught that peruse means to examine closely and carefully, but increasingly hears people use it to mean skim quickly.

 One Language, Many Voices Exhibit
Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices” is a new exhibit at the British Library in London featuring the earliest printed versions of Beowulf, the Wycliffe and King James Bible, and the oldest known example of written English.

 Etymology of Learning Curve
A physicist is curious about the term learning curve. He pictures it as a pair of axes. But if that’s the case, what’s X and what’s Y?

Who coined supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

 Money Paraprosdokians
Martha shares two more paraprosdokians about money.

 Democrat vs. Democratic
What’s the correct adjective to describe something associated with the Democrats? Is it Democrat or Democratic?

 Buckle Desserts
Blueberry buckle is a dessert with cake batter, fruit, and a streussel topping. What does that have to do with buckles?

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Photo by Kristen Taylor. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Broadcast

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
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