Say you have an acquaintance you always see at the dog park or the playground. But one night, you run into them at the movies, and for a moment, it’s confusing. Is there a word for that disorienting sense of someone or something being out of place? Yes! Plus: the term sea change doesn’t have to do with winds changing direction on the surface of the sea. It’s a kind of profound transformation that Shakespeare wrote about. Also, Martha and Grant have recommendations for the book lovers on your gift list, plus titch, chocolate gravy, the overview effect, the cat’s pajamas, snot otters, and zoomies. This episode first aired December 3, 2016.
The book Lingo, by Dutch linguist and journalist Gaston Dorren, is an enjoyable whirlwind tour of languages throughout Europe.
An anachronism is something that’s placed in the wrong time period, like a Roman soldier wearing Birkenstocks. But what’s the word for if someone or something is literally out of place geographically speaking? You can use the word anatopism, from a Greek word for “place or region” or anachorism, from a different Greek word for “place, field, or village.”
Quiz Guy John Chaneski offers a game that involves finding the synonym with the most syllables. For example, one synonym for the word dumb is vacuous. But can you think of another that has five syllables?
A listener in San Antonio, Texas, has fond memories of chocolate gravy over biscuits, the word gravy in this sense having nothing to do with a meat-based sauce. Grant shares his mother’s own recipe, which she calls cocoa gravy.
Overview effect refers to the cognitive shift in awareness and sense of awe experienced by astronauts who observe Earth from space. The term also inspired the title of Benjamin Grant’s new book, Overview: A New Perspective of Earth, a collection of spectacular images culled from satellite photographs.
Where does the accent fall in the word Caribbean? Most English speakers stress the second syllable, not the third. The word derives from the name of the Caribs, also the source of the word cannibal.
The Italian word ponte means “bridge,” as in the Ponte Vecchio of Florence. In Italian, ponte now also denotes the Monday or Friday added to make for a long weekend. Other languages, such as German and Spanish, also make a similar use of their words meaning “bridge.”
A sea change is a profound transformation, although some people erroneously use it to mean a slight shift, as when winds change direction on the surface of the ocean. In reality, the term refers to the kind of change effected on something submerged in salt water, as in Ariel’s song from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
It’s book recommendation time! Grant recommends the Trenton Lee Stewart series for young readers, starting with The Mysterious Benedict Society. Martha praises Ronni Lundy’s Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes, a love letter to the cuisine, folkways, history, and language of Appalachia.
A San Antonio, Texas, listener lives in a house built by his grandfather, who was from Finland. The house has a small window in an upper corner that supposedly was designed to ensure that evil spirits could escape from the house. He thinks it’s called a grum hole. Ever heard of it?
A snot otter is a kind of salamander.
The cat’s pajamas, denoting something excellent, arose in the 1920’s along with many similarly improbable phrases involving animals and their anatomy or possessions, including the gnat’s elbow, the eel’s ankles, and the elephant’s instep.
What do you call it when your dog or cat suddenly turns into a blur of fur, racing through the house? Trainers and behaviorists call those frenetic random activity periods or FRAPs. Other people just call them zoomies.
Photo by Richard Link. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Books Mentioned in the Episode
|Overview: A New Perspective of Earth|
|The Mysterious Benedict Society|
|Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes|
Music Used in the Episode
|Time Is The Enemy||Quantic||The 5th Exotic||Tru Thoughts|
|Tropicoso||Jungle Fire||Tropicoso||Nacional Records|
|Spring Tank Fire||Quantic||1000 Watts||Tru Thoughts|
|A Life Worth Living||Quantic||1000 Watts||Tru Thoughts|
|Culebro||Jungle Fire||Tropicoso||Nacional Records|
|Homeward Bound||Quantic||1000 Watts||Tru Thoughts|
|Painting Silhouettes||Quantic||1000 Watts||Tru Thoughts|
|Volcano Vapes||Sure Fire Soul Ensemble||Out On The Coast||Colemine Records|