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Blue Dolphin

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How can you kick the verbal habit of saying you know and um so many times in a sentence? For one thing, get comfortable with pauses. There’s no need to fill every silence during a conversation. Also, a doctor who treats patients in Appalachia shares their colorful vocabulary. If you have a rising in your leader or a misery in your jaw, you may want medical attention. Speaking of ailments, have you ever suffered from warbler neck? Birding enthusiasts get it from searching for hard-to-find species perched in treetops. Plus, mouthfeel, pan-pan, inkhorn terms, Hollywood anachronisms, dout, Werner Herzog’s new memoir, an abecedarian puzzle, latibulate, agelastic, a word that means “to lick dishes,” ordering a blue dolphin neat, and more.

This episode first aired April 6, 2024.

Catillate, Agelastic, and Latibulate

 Inkhorn terms are bloated, fancy, show-off words formed by cramming Latin and Greek roots into English. The name references little bottles made from animal horn that 14th-century English scribes used to carry their ink. Lexicographer Henry Cockeram’s 1623 volume, The English Dictionarie (Amazon) features lots of them, including catillate meaning “to lick a plate,” from Latin word for “small plate” and agelastic, an adjective that describes someone who never laughs, from Greek words for “not laughing.” Another is latibulate,defined as “privily to hide ones selfe in a corner,” from lateo, Latin for “I lie hidden,” also the source of English latent.

All Out Are In Free!

 Kylie Ryan, an elementary-school teacher in Seattle, Washington, remembers that when she played hide-and-seek as a child, the call for everyone to come in was alle alle oxen free. Are there other versions? Yes, and because these sayings were not codified and instead passed from child to child, there are a multitude of versions. The Dictionary of American Regional English lists at least 30, including alle alle outs in free, allsie allsie in free, allee allee oops in free, allie allie opes in free, and all-ee all-ee olson free. In Shakespeare’s time, the same game was called all hid. Listen for all that, plus the big “Hello!” from Ms. Ryan’s class. We’ve also talked about this children’s expression in 2014 and even earlier in 2008.

Language With a Certain Mouthfeel

 Is there a term for words that simply feel good as you form them in your mouth and say them? Linguists sometimes speak of mouthfeel, an expression borrowed from the food world. They also talk about phonaesthetics, the study of the sensuous properties of sound, particularly as relates to poetry. Euphony describes the sound of words that are pleasant to hear. When speaking of wine, sommeliers use la bouche, or literally, “the mouth,” to denote the tactile sensation of wine once it passes the lips.

A Chaneski From Guy John Our Puzzle Word

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski was inspired by a version of film in which a filmmaker went to the trouble to take a clip of every word used in the movie The Wizard of Oz, arranging them in alphabetical order, all the way to the Tin Man’s saying zipper. The movie is called, not surprisingly, Of Oz the Wizard. John pondered a puzzle that applies the same treatment to other artistic works. For example, U.S. national anthem would be “Banner Star-Spangled The.” He’s created a whole puzzle based on that idea. The first clue starts the game out with an alphabetic flourish: Using this pattern, how should he title the alphabetically correct version of the 1967 Faye Dunaway-Warren Beatty classic about two bank robbers?

Is There, Umm, A Way to, Uh, Stop, Umm, Saying, You Know, Filler Words?

 Lorraine in Syracuse, New York, asks for tips for breaking the habit of saying You know. These linguistic self-interruptions are called disfluencies. You’ll improve your speaking by making sure you know your topic well and are clear about what you wish to say. Also, don’t be afraid to pause and take a breath. Especially when we’re nervous, we feel compelled to fill every silence, and that’s simply not necessary. In the art world, a similar compulsion to fill in every gap is called horror vacui, or “fear of empty spaces.”

Just an Ini Bit Off

 An elementary music teacher in Cheyenne, Wyoming, reports that on a cold and windy day, one of her three-year-old students declared that she wished they were all on a sandy beach where they could change into their zucchinis. It was clearly a teachable moment where she could explain that such a swimsuit is actually called a bikini.

Cheer Away the Bowl

 Gene calls from the Badlands of South Dakota to ask about ordering a glass of water at a restaurant by asking for a blue dolphin neat. Is that widely used? There are many slang terms used when ordering water, such as windmill cocktail, city coke, fish broth, Adam’s ale, and Neptune’s daughter. A teetotaler may also say give me one on the city. Gene’s also curious about a saying his grandmother used: Cold water is the cup that cheers away, away the bowl. This expression arose amid the Christian temperance movement of the 1830s, and appeared in many songs urging abstinence from alcohol.

Medical Misery, Pone, and Rising

 A physician in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, shares some of the vocabulary of his patients from Appalachia. There, a misery is anything painful, such as a misery in my jaw if they have a painful tooth or a misery in my back if they have lumbar pain. A rising is a swelling, and a rising in my leader is a swelling in a muscle or tendon. A pone is also a lump, the word adapted from a similar-sounding Virginia Algonquian word referring to “bread” or “something baked,” as in corn pone. In the dialect of Appalachia, the letter A was historically appended to verbs, as in a-coming or a-going, the initial a-deriving from the preposition at, and originally indicating the progressive form of a verb.

Dictionary-Lovers, Fast Friends

 German filmmaker Werner Herzog is known for such documentaries as Grizzly Man and Fitzcarraldo. He’s also fascinated with what he calls “the limits of language,” as evident in his 1976 documentary how fast auctioneers can talk, How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck. In his new memoir, Every Man for Himself and God Against All (Bookshop|Amazon), Herzog describes his friendship with Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and author of Awakenings (Bookshop|Amazon) and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Bookshop|Amazon), and includes a lovely passage about when he first spied Sacks reading the Oxford English Dictionary and knew they’d be fast friends.

Pan Pan!

 Skip, a sailing enthusiast from Gainesville, Florida, has been pondering radio protocols, such as the distress signal mayday!, and sécurité, which announces any of various warnings. There’s also pan-pan, repeated three times, a call that indicates urgency, but not distress — no immediate danger to anyone, but a cause for concern, such as being lost, changing a route, or in the case of aircraft, low fuel or an altitude change. That pan is different from other pans in English. The pan that holds the gunpowder on a flintlock rifle is part of the expression flash in the pan, which refers to an instance where the powder ignites but the gun doesn’t fire. If you pan a movie by criticizing it, you’re metaphorically putting it on the pan and roasting it. If you pan with a movie camera, moving from one object to another, you’re taking a panoramic shot, panoramic derving from Greek words that mean “all seen.” Panic, on the other hand, derives from the name of the Greek god Pan, who traipsed around woodlands and fields, making mysterious noises that caused irrational fears. In French, en panne means “out of order” or “malfunctioning,” a panne in the 16th century being part of a sail, later giving rise to the term regarding ships having problems, and later anything in distress, and the modern French sense of en panne involving any kind of breakdown.

Warbler Neck

 In his delightful memoir Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World (Bookshop|Amazon), Christian Cooper introduces the vocabulary of birding, including the term warbler neck, an affliction among fellow birders. Cooper also shares his passion for all things avian in his own television series.

How Far Back Could One “Read the Room”?

 While watching the movie Maestro, Mary in Newark, Delaware, noted that while playing Leonard Bernstein, Bradley Cooper says at one point that he misread the room. Is that phrase an anachronism, or is it appropriate for a plot taking place in the 1960s? The expression to read an audience has been around since at least 1899.

Dout a Fire, but Don’t Doubt It

 As we’ve previously discussed, firefighters don and dofftheir equipment, terms deriving from do on and do off. They are also said to dout a fire, meaning they “extinguish” it, dout being a similar shortening of do out.

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

Books Mentioned in the Episode

Every Man for Himself and God Against All by Werner Herzog (Bookshop|Amazon)
Awakenings by Oliver Sacks (Bookshop|Amazon)
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks (Bookshop|Amazon)
Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World by Christian Cooper (Bookshop|Amazon)

Music Used in the Episode

TitleArtistAlbumLabel
Rev MosesLou DonaldsonAlligator BogalooBlue Note
September 13DeodatoPreludeCTI
Soul MessageGroove HolmesSoul MessagePrestige
Summer In Central ParkHorace SilverIn Pursuit Of The 27th ManBlue Note
Baubles, Bangles, And BeadsDeodatoPreludeCTI
Aw ShucksLou DonaldsonAlligator BogalooBlue Note
Big Noise From WinnetkaChico HamiltonThe DealerImpulse!
The Other SideSure Fire Soul EnsembleStep DownColemine Records

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