There’s a new kind of hamburger menu that involves pixels, not pickles. It’s that little stack of horizontal lines in the corner of a webpage that you click to see more options. You might use a hamburger menu while webrooming–that is, when you go home to buy a product online after inspecting it in a store. Also, a clever new option for an emoticon that means “Oh, well!” It’s called a smugshrug. And: what hospital workers mean when they say a potential patient is showing a positive “suitcase sign.” Plus, French dictation contests and Chinese dictionary races, pigs for “cops,” historical trivia limericks, the military roots of flak, and the subtle difference between talking and speaking.
This episode first aired January 30, 2015.
Selfie has turned out to be a word that keeps on giving. We have dronies, or selfies taken with drones; healfies, wherein fitness enthusiasts photograph themselves; and now the selfie stick, the most revolutionary selfie-taking device since arms.
Colorful Expressions from San Diego
If you need a variation on the phrase “son of gun,” there’s always “son of a who cut your hair last.” It’s one of several colorful expressions that a San Diego listener’s great aunt used. Others include “you’re full of old shoes,” and, “stick some mad money in your budge,” in the event that a date goes sour.
Etymology of Police Officer “Pigs”
The term pigs, in reference to police officers, comes from England’s underground criminal slang and shows up in the early 1800s. It refers to pigs as vile creatures that take more than their share, akin to police officers who would take the illicit gains of thieves for themselves.
Friends are like Fish
After we talked in an earlier episode about what Martha calls anyway friends–those friends you pick right up with after not speaking for a long time–a listener sent in this quip: Friends are like fish, they’re fresh when you catch them.
Dis, Dat, and Dose
Depending on your ancestry, or where in the country you’re from, you might pronounce the words this that them there and those as dis dat dem dere and dose.
If you’re getting flak from someone, it means they’re giving you hard time. The term flak comes from the name for German anti-aircraft guns, Fliegerabwehrkanone, and the deadly metal shot out of them.
International Word Competitions
Do spelling bees exist outside the United States? Not really. English is unique for how vast and complicated it is, which makes our bees pretty exciting. In France, they have competitions for taking dictation, and the Chinese hold races for looking up words in the dictionary.
Pantone Color of 2015
The Pantone Color Institute announced its 2015 Color of the Year, and the winner is marsala. The reddish brown hue is named for a wine from the West Coast of Sicily, which in turn may go back to an Arabic term meaning “harbor of god.”
Grocery Cars and Buggies
Carriage, car, wagon, buggy — how do you refer to that giant basket on wheels you push around the grocery store? As the Harvard Dialect Survey shows, the answer depends on what part of the United States you’re from.
Just so you know, there are more exciting ways to spell yes. Yass, yiss, and other variants including more S’s are used both in speech and informal writing to convey added enthusiasm and personality.
Hamburger Menus and Smugshrug
Some new slang is making the rounds. Hamburger menus are those little stacks of short horizontal lines in the top left corner of websites that function as menus. Webrooming is the act of scoping out goods online only to buy them the store–the opposite of which is showrooming). The smugshrug is a funny emoticon that communicates a resigned, “Oh, well.”
Speaking vs. Talking
There’s a subtle difference between speaking and talking. Speaking tends to be more formal—you wouldn’t say Talker of the House of Representatives—while talking tends to connote conversation. For more on this topic, check out The Scene of Linguistic Action and its Perspectivization by SPEAK, TALK, SAY and TELL.
Next time you’re at a hospital, listen for staffer’s code slang like suitcase sign, meaning “the patient is determined to check himself in no matter what,” or a gown sign, meaning they suspect a patient of getting ready to “elope,” that is, “to leave without telling anyone.”
Addressing as “Son”
Particularly in the African-American community, the affectionate term son is often used for more than just young male offspring—most anyone can be addressed as son.
Photo by myfrozenlife. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Music Used in the Broadcast
|Kaleidoscope||Bad Bad Not Good||III||Innovative Leisure|
|Triangle||Bad Bad Not Good||III||Innovative Leisure|
|Superbad||Suburban Soul Crew||Shafted! – 70’s Instrumental Funk Classics||Warner|
|$2.50||Monophonics||Into The Infrasounds||Ageless Records|
|Simon’s Song||Monophonics||Into The Infrasounds||Ageless Records|
|I’m Down||Monophonics||Into The Infrasounds||Ageless Records|
|Yo Slick||Suburban Soul Crew||Shafted! – 70’s Instrumental Funk Classics||Warner|
|Low Blow||Monophonics||Into The Infrasounds||Ageless Records|
|Goliath||Monophonics||Into The Infrasounds||Ageless Records|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|