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Bogarting Bangers

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Has the age of email led to an outbreak of exclamation marks? Do women use them more than men? Also, is there a word for the odd feeling when you listen to a radio personality for years, then discover that they look nothing like your mental picture of them? And what’s the origin of the verb bogart?

This episode first aired June 6, 2009.

Bangs in your Inbox

 Writing in the Guardian, Stuart Jeffries contends that our email boxes are being infested with exclamation marks, known as bangs or bangers (without mash) to some people. Jacob Rubin also wrote on the subject a couple of years ago in Slate.


 If you tell a buddy, “Don’t bogart that joint,” you’re telling him not to hog the marijuana cigarette. Ahem. We know phrase was popularized in the film Easy Rider (performed by The Fraternity of Man) but does it have anything to do with Humphrey Bogart?


 You know that odd feeling when you’ve listened to a radio personality for years, but when you finally meet them, they look nothing like you’d imagined? Is there a word for that weird disconnect? Radiofreude, maybe?

Author Thoughts on Exclamation Marks

 Martha shares what F. Scott Fitzgerald and Elmore Leonard had to say about exclamation marks. Short version: Neither is a fan.

Chain Reaction Word Game

 Quiz Guys John Chaneski and Greg Pliska lead a couple of rounds of “Chain Reaction,” a word game that’s great for parties and long car rides. Two players try to make a third one guess the word that the other two are thinking of. The trick is that they have to give alternating one-word clues to build a sentence. Hilarity ensues. Hillary sues.


 Why do some people refer to a couch or a sofa as a davenport?

Pronouncing Gala

 How should you pronounce the word gala?


 Grant reports some etymological news: A recent article in the journal American Speech suggests a new source for the term that means “drunk,” blotto.

Rattle Your Dags

 If you’re in New Zealand and are told to “rattle your dags,” you’d better get a move on. Literally, though, the expression has to do with sheep butts.

Dreaming in Hindi

 Martha reviews the new book, Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich, a memoir about setting out to learn a second language in mid-life. Rich spent a year in India to learn Hindi, and became so fascinated with the process that she went on to interview experts about the mechanics of second-language acquisition and how it affects the brain. Publisher’s Weekly has an interview with Rich. Grant discusses an article about what happens to the mother tongue voice when first-language speakers of indigenous languages in India learn English and then spend years focused on speaking and writing in their adopted tongue.


 How did the word pigeonhole come to mean “classify” or “categorize”?

Golden Parachutes

 An employee who gets a great termination package is said to leave the company with a golden parachute. Where’d that term come from?

President Honorifics

 A caller is adamant honorifics should be used to address the President of the United States, as in “President Obama,” never “Mr. Obama.” He thinks it’s disrespectful and divisive when news organizations use “Mr.”

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

Photo by M M. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich

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