If your friend says she’s coming to town Sunday week, exactly when should you expect to see her? What do you call those typographical symbols cartoonists use in place of profanity? Plus grass widows, the linguistic phenomenon called creaky voice, the difference between insure and ensure, the roots of the term jingoism and what it means if someone says “You don’t believe fatmeat is greasy.” Also, is it okay to make a noun out of a verb? This episode first aired January 21, 2012.
Researchers have found that stress is a leading cause of plewds — you know, those drops of sweat popping off the foreheads of nervous cartoon characters. That’s one of several cartooning terms coined by Mort Walker, creator of the Beetle Bailey comic strip. Martha and Grant discuss this and other coinages from The Lexicon of Comicana.
Is it okay to make a verb out of a noun? Yes! It’s estimated that twenty percent of English verbs started as nouns. Just think of the head-to-toe mnemonic: you can head off a problem, face a situation, nose around, shoulder responsibility, elbow your way into something, stomach a problem, foot the bill, or toe the line. Verbing weirds language.
Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a puzzle called “Categories”. The challenge is to find the common thread that unites seemingly unrelated things. For example, Mary-Kate and Ashley, Jack Sparrow’s crew, and cherubim all fall into which category? The answer: Twins, Pirates, and Angels are all baseball teams!
If someone’s jingoistic, they’re extremely patriotic, often belligerently so. The term comes from a British song written in 1870 that uses the phrase by jingo! to conjure up enthusiasm for a British naval action.
The admonition “you don’t believe fatmeat is greasy” is found almost exclusively among African-Americans. The idea is apparently that if you don’t believe fatmeat is greasy, you’re someone who misses the obvious.
What’s the difference between the words insure and ensure? To ensure means to make certain. Insure means to protect someone or something from risk, and should be used exclusively in a financial sense.
For some time now, linguists have been studying a style of speaking known as creaky voice. In the United States, it’s heard particularly heard among young white women in urban areas. New research about this phenomenon, also known as vocal fry, has been making the rounds on the internet.
Voilà (not spelled wallah or vwala or walla) is a good example of a borrowed word. Though French for “there it is,” Americans often use it as a simple utterance, akin to presto or ta-da.
Autocorrect mistakes abound, but have you ever made the errors yourself, such as typing the word buy when you meant by? Studies in Computer Mediated Communications have linked this phenomenon to the way we process words phonetically before typing them out.
Photo by Erich Ferdinand. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Book Mentioned in the Episode
Music Used in the Episode
|Number One||Francis Lai||Le Corps De Mon Ennemi (Soundtrack)||WIP Records|
|Un Homme Est Morte||Michel Legrand||Un Homme Est Morte 45rpm||Vadim Music|
|Angelic Streams||David Durrah||Angelic Streams||P-Vine|
|The Rat Cage||Beastie Boys||The Mix Up||Capitol Records|
|Oh By Jingo||Jeeves and Wooster||Jeeves and Wooster||Unreleased|
|Laying The Trap||Charles Bernstein||Gator||MGM Music|
|Groove Along||Tony and Reality||Tony and Reality||Regime|
|Dramastically Different||Beastie Boys||The Mix Up||Capitol Records|
|Alto Glide||Brian Bennett and Alan Hawkshaw||The KPM 1000 Series: Synthesis||KPM Music, Ltd|
|Get Down||Freedom Express||Get Down 45rpm||Soul Cal|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|