It’s time for book recommendations! Martha’s enjoying an armchair tour of important places in the history of our language, and Grant recommends relaxing with books that make great reading for both children and adults. Plus, are you the type of shopper who gets in and out of a store quickly? Or would you rather research that purchase in advance and then try before you buy? No matter where you fall on the shopping scale, psychologists have a name for you. And here’s a wintry question: if you’re panking something, just what are you doing? Plus, how to pronounce short-lived, a slang term for flirting, “ass over teakettle,” and an amusing 19th-century rant about young people’s slang. This episode first aired December 12, 2014.
We’ve talked before about those abbreviated baths that one listener refers to as a Georgia bath. Listeners showered us with calls about more names for those abbreviated cleanups, including birdbaths and kitty baths.
Before you turn up your nose at the expression “ass over teakettle,” know that our first evidence for this phrase is in William Carlos Williams’ story “White Mule.” A great idiom from a great writer. Other topsy-turvy phrases suggesting the same idea: “head over heels” and “head over tin cup.”
Complaining about young people’s slang is nothing new. Browsing Google Books, Grant stumbled upon an amusing example from the 19th century called “The Age of Slang.” Oh, my stars and garters!
If you pronounce short-lived with a long i, you’re saying it correctly– at least by the standards of the 1600’s. Today it’s far more commonly pronounced with a short i, though both pronunciations are acceptable.
An ailurophile from Dallas, Texas, wrote us to say her cat has a hobby of poking around in the closet and finding hidden nooks to nap in, or as she calls it, closeteering. That’s also a great term for generally digging around in the closet for stuff you haven’t seen in years.
Quiz Guy John Chaneski tests our knowledge of Latin by way of brand awareness this week with a game about brands like Lego, which takes its name from Danish “leg godt,” meaning “play well.” As it happens, the Latin term lego might be loosely translated as “I put together.”
Buck up, meaning toughen up or get it together, has a long history stemming from the days when travelling trunks had buckles on them that needed to be fastened. Over the years, variations like “buckle down” and “buckle” have meant both “to woo someone” and “to defy authority.”
Spit baths are another common form of quickie baths, wherein a moist towel is used to wipe schmutz off a child’s face. One fraternity member emailed us to say that when he was in college, over-spraying with cologne in lieu of a shower was called an SAE bath, named for a rival fraternity.
Are you a satisficer or a maximizer? The former is the kind of person who runs into the store, takes a quick peek at the options, and gets out of there fast with the simple option that meets their basic needs. For an idea of what maximizers are all about, just read the Amazon reviews for home appliances and you’ll get the idea.
It’s that time of year when Martha and Grant share their book recommendations for the holiday gift season. This year, Martha gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up to Letters of Note, The Sense of Style, and Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist’s Guide to Britain. Grant offers two Newbery Medal winners: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and The One and Only Ivan, about a gorilla who lives in a shopping mall zoo.
Words like discombobulate and blustrification are made-up words intended to sound fancy and Latinate. Discombobulate, in turn, inspired the Recombobulation Area in the Milwaukee airport.
The word hoodlum first pops up in the 1870’s in San Francisco to refer to the exact thing it does now: guys who are up to no good. In the journal Notes and Queries, you’ll find all kinds of discussion on hoodlum.
The French have a musical term for paperclip. They call it le trombone.
Martha Barnette gets a call from Martha Barnett, her Canadian tocaya who’s missing an “e” at the end of her last name. On the Global News website, you can see that the name Martha, perhaps now an anomaly in Canada, peaked in popularity around the late 1950s.
After our episode that mentioned eponymous laws, we got a call from Darby Venza from Austin, Texas, who came up with this bit of wisdom, otherwise known as Venza’s Razor: Whenever a garden hose or extension cord can catch on something, it will. True that.
Photo by Simon_Sees. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Books Mentioned in the Episode
|White Mule by William Carlos Williams|
|Merriam Webster Online Dictionary|
|Letters of Note by Shaun Usher|
|The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker|
|Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist’s Guide to Britain by David and Hilary Crystal|
|From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg|
|The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate|
Music Used in the Episode
|Ba Ba Boom||Money Mark||Mark’s Keyboard Repair||Mo Wax|
|Have Clav Will Travel||Money Mark||Mark’s Keyboard Repair||Mo Wax|
|Deep In A Dream||Milt Jackson||The Ballad Artistry of Milt Jackson||Atlantic|
|Sunday Gardena Blvd||Money Mark||Mark’s Keyboard Repair||Mo Wax|
|Ease||Money Mark||Mark’s Keyboard Repair||Mo Wax|
|Cry||Money Mark||Mark’s Keyboard Repair||Mo Wax|
|Sixth Synth||Money Mark||Mark’s Keyboard Repair||Mo Wax|
|The Midnight Sun Will Never Set||Milt Jackson||The Ballad Artistry of Milt Jackson||Atlantic|
|Invitation||Money Mark||Mark’s Keyboard Repair||Mo Wax|
|Pinto’s New Car||Money Mark||Mark’s Keyboard Repair||Mo Wax|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|