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Flee Fly Flo
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2017/01/02
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Grant Barrett
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Wrapping up 2016 with words from the past year and some newsy limericks. Bigly and Brexit were on lots of lips this year, as well as an increasingly popular Danish word that means “cozy.” Also, Quiz Guy John Chaneski sums up the year in newsy limericks about movies, science, and the Nobel Prize. Finally, an old term takes on new currency: To gaslight someone means to make them doubt their own perceptions. This term for malevolent manipulation was by inspired 1944 film about a psychologically abusive husband. Also, Flee Fly Flo, Latinx, woke, alte kacker, boodler, and to be honest with you.

This episode first aired December 31, 2016.

Download the MP3.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Words of the Year 2016
Words of the year for 2016 include bigly, a mishearing of big-league; hygge, a Danish word that has to do with coziness; and Brexit, a portmanteau that denotes the exit of Britain from the European Union.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Flee Fly Flo Camp Song
Flee Fly Flo is a camp song, and like other songs passed along orally, it has lots of variations, and often includes rhythmic hand-clapping. In her book Camp Songs, Folk Songs, Patricia Averill suggests the roots of this camp favorite may be in scat singing.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Latinx
The term Latinx, pronounced Lah-TEEN-ex, gained traction in 2016 as a gender-neutral, non-binary alternative to Latino and/or Latina. A variant is Latin@.

[Image Can Not Be Found] To Be Honest With You
What does a person really mean when she starts a statement with “to be honest with you”? It’s important not to take such expressions too literally.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Zika
Unfortunately, one word of the year candidate for 2016 is Zika, the name of the mosquito-borne virus linked to devastating birth defects.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Year-End Limerick Quiz
What’s an end-of-the-year episode without Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s limericks about words in the news?

[Image Can Not Be Found] Gaslighting
A listener in Tampa, Florida, was discussing the 2016 presidential election when the term gaslighted came up. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which victims are manipulated into doubting their own perceptions. The term was popularized by the 1944 movie Gaslight, starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Berman, in which a creepy husband makes his wife doubt what she’s seeing with her own eyes, including the dimming and brightening of gas-powered lamps in their home.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Being Have
A caller who grew up in rural Pennsylvania remembers being asked as a child, “Are you being have?” instead of “Are you behaving?” Being have, with a long a sound, results from what linguists call reanalysis. It occurs when someone incorrectly determines the roots and divisions of words.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Stay Woke
The slang term woke, as in stay woke, arose among African-Americans to refer to being aware of social injustice or racism, and then doing something about it in one’s own life.

[Image Can Not Be Found] What To Call a Parent Who Loses a Child
Although in English we have the terms orphan, widow, and widower, our language lacks a one-word term that means “bereaved parent.” A few other languages have a word for this, including Hebrew sh’khol and Sanskrit vilomah.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Mmm-Bye
Listeners respond to our earlier conversation about ending a telephone call with mmm-bye.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Barrow Pit
A caller in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, refers to a roadside ditch as a borrow pit, as if the dirt dug from it was “borrowed” to form the raised surface of the road. It’s a misinterpretation of the original term, barrow pit, deriving from barrow, meaning “mound.”

[Image Can Not Be Found] Six and Eight
A San Diego, California, listener recalls that when asked “How’s it going?” his father would often respond “same old six and eight.” It may be a variation of the British expression “same old seven and six,” meaning “seven shillings and sixpence,” a once-common total for the cost of some types of government-issued licenses.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Holiday, A Missed Spot
Holiday is an old term for a spot missed when painting or wiping a surface. It’s mentioned in Grose’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

[Image Can Not Be Found] Nyello
Responding to our conversation about concluding a phone call with mmm-bye, a listener offers an example of a humorous telephone greeting: “Nyello!”

[Image Can Not Be Found] Alte Kacker, Old Cocker
A Tallahassee, Florida, listener heard an interview in which actor William H. Macy referred to old cockers, apparetly meaning “old fellows.” Although one meaning of cocker is “pal,” Macy was probably alluding to the Yiddish alte kacker, or alter kacker, meaning “old man.” It’s sometimes abbreviated AK, and literally translates as “old person who defecates.”

[Image Can Not Be Found] Boodler
A boodler is someone involved in political graft or corruption. The word likely derives from Dutch boedel, meaning “property.”

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

Photo by Stephen Pierzchala. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Broadcast

Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue
Camp Songs, Folk Songs

Music Used in the Broadcast

Title Artist Album Label
You’ve Made Me O’Donel Levy Black Velvet Groove Merchant
I Wanna Be Where You Are O’Donel Levy Dawn Of A New Day Groove Merchant
Make The Road By Walking Menahan Street Band Make The Road By Walking Dunham Records
Bad Bad Simba O’Donel Levy Simba Groove Merchant
Never Can Say Goodbye O’Donel Levy Breeding Of Mind Groove Merchant
Tired Of Fighting Menahan Street Band Make The Road By Walking Dunham Records
We’ve Only Just Begun O’Donel Levy Breeding Of Mind Groove Merchant
Nigerian Knights O’Donel Levy Simba Groove Merchant
Volcano Vapes Sure Fire Soul Ensemble Out On The Coast Colemine Records
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