Choosing language that helps resolve interpersonal conflict. Sometimes a question is really just a veiled form of criticism and understanding the difference between “ask culture” and “guess culture” can help you know how to respond. • What words should you use with a co-worker who’s continually apologizing for being late — but never changes her behavior? Finally, charismatic megafauna may look cuddly, but they’re best appreciated from a distance. Plus, in like Flynn, gradoo, champing, pronouncing the word the, pilot episodes, and bless your heart. This episode first aired February 18, 2017.
The phrase loose lips sink ships is a warning to be careful about what you say publicly. It stems from propaganda posters from World War II that proclaimed “Loose Lips Sink Might Sink Ships,” meaning that anything you say could be overheard by an enemy, with literally catastrophic results.
An ex-Marine reports that his commanding officer used to castigate his men for any stray threads hanging from their uniforms, calling those loose threads Irish pennants. That term is an ethnophaulism, or ethnic slur. Other examples of ethnopaulisms include Irish screwdriver for “hammer” and Irish funnies for “obituaries.”
In the 17th century, the verb to bate and the likely related verb, to bat, were used in falconry to mean “to flap wildly.” By the 19th century, to bat was also part of the phrase to bat one’s eyelashes.
Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s puzzle is inspired by the periodic table, and involves adding the chemical symbol for an element to one word in order to form an entirely new word. For example, if you take the hat from a baseball fan and add helium to it, it becomes very inexpensive. What’s the new word?
In comic strips, a bright idea is symbolized by a light bulb over a character’s head. This association between an incandescent bulb and inspiration was popularized in the early 20th century by the cartoon character Felix the Cat, but the notion of an idea being bright goes back as least as far as the writing of Jonathan Swift.
To be in like Flynn means to be “quickly and easily successful.” The phrase has long been associated with hard-living heartthrob Errol Flynn but was around before his sexual appetites and exploits came up in a trial. Some people use the phrase in like Flint to mean the same thing, a phrase perhaps inspired by the much later 1967 movie In like Flint.
As the 19th-century British jurist Charles Darling observed: “A timid question will always receive a confident answer.”
After researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego discovered a seahorse-like creature called the ruby sea dragon, they described this brilliant red fish as a charismatic species. Many scientists use the word charismatic to characterize animals that humans may find particularly appealing, which makes such animals useful for raising public awareness of biological diversity and environmental concerns. Such fauna — or in the case of pandas and elephants, megafauna — are sometimes called glamour animals or hero species. A hero shot in advertising, by the way, is a photo of a product or service that sums up its appeal to potential customers.
A psychotherapist in Burlington, Vermont, observes that couples in counseling together ask each other questions that are actually veiled criticisms. Such indirect communication was the topic of a spirited conversation on Metafilter. Much has been written about direct vs. indirect communication styles, or as it’s sometimes called, “ask culture” vs. “guess culture.”
A Palm Springs, California, listener was taught that when the word the is followed by a vowel, it should be pronounced with a long e, and otherwise with a schwa sound. However, there’s no grammatical basis for such a rule.
The Churches Conservation Trust helps maintain and repurpose more than 300 churches in Britain that are no longer used for worship. To raise money for the buildings’ upkeep, the trust now offers visitors the chance to have a sleepover in the sanctuary, which they’ve dubbed champing, a portmanteau that combines the words church and camping. Their promotional materials also offer a slap-up breakfast, slap-up being a Britishism that means “first-rate.”
The noun bangs, meaning “hair cut straight across the forehead,” may derive from the idea of the word bang meaning “abruptly,” as in a bangtail horse whose tail is trimmed straight across. The verb curtail, meaning to “cut off,” was first used to mean “dock a horse’s tail,” and then later applied more generally to mean “shorten” or “diminish.”
Photo by Matt Wiebe. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Music Used in the Episode
|House of Mirrors||David McCallum||Music: It’s Happening Now!||Capitol|
|Nick’s Theme||Magic in Threes||Magic in Threes||GED Soul Records|
|The Smile||David Axelrod||Songs Of Innocence||Capitol|
|Look How Far We’ve Come||Soul Scratch||Pacified||Colemine Records|
|You’ve Made Me So Very Happy||Lou Rawls||You’ve Made Me So Very Happy||Capitol|
|The Edge||David McCallum||Music: A Bit More Of Me||Capitol|
|Neal’s Lament||Magic in Threes||Magic in Threes||GED Soul Records|
|Get Up Off Your Knees||David Axelrod||Heavy Axe||Fantasy|
|Mucho Chupar||David Axelrod||Heavy Axe||Fantasy|
|Volcano Vapes||Sure Fire Soul Ensemble||Out On The Coast||Colemine Records|