Is it cheating to say you’ve read a book if you only listened to it on tape? Over the centuries, the way we think about reading has changed a lot. There was a time, for example, when reading silently was considered strange. Plus, what do you call those soft rolls of dust that accumulate under the bed? Dust bunnies? Dust kitties? How about house moss? And the surprising backstory to every man’s favorite accessory—the cummerbund. Also: saucered and blowed, skinflint, sporty peppers, tips for proofreading, and the Great Chai Tea Debate.
This episode first aired March 21, 2014.
“Reading” an Audiobook
Is it cheating to say you’ve read a book when you’ve really just listened to the audiobook?
Traditional Southern Names
Long live Southern names! Classics like Henry Ritter Emma Ritter Dema Ritter Sweet Potatoe Creamatartar Caroline Bostick go way back, but the tradition is still alive and well.
“Apps” Word Puzzle
Our Quiz Master John Chaneski could make a fortune with some of the Apps he’s created for this game.
Original Use of Cummerbunds
If you thought cummerbunds served no purpose today, wait until you hear of their original use.
Evolution of Alphabets
Considering that the first alphabet goes back as far as 1600 BC, it’s pretty remarkable how little has changed. Robert Fradkin, a classics professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert Fradkin illustrates this point with helpful animations on his Evolution of Alphabets page.
Skinflint, meaning stingy or tight-fisted, comes from the idea that someone’s so frugal they would try to skin a piece of the extremely hard rock called flint.
Nobel Prize Literature Translated to English
Chances are you’re not familiar with most of the books that win the Nobel Prize in literature because most of them aren’t translated into English. Fortunately, Words Without Borders is doing something about that.
“Saucered and Blowed” Idiom
Saucered and blowed is an idiom meaning that a project is finished or preparations are complete, but it’s not that odd—Bill Clinton’s used it. It derives from the rustic practice of spilling boiling-hot coffee into a saucer and blowing on it to cool it down.
Proofreading is a skill to be learned, but you can start with tricks like printing out the text, reading aloud, or moving down the page with a ruler, one line at a time.
Photo by Gabby Canonizado. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Book Mentioned in the Broadcast
|A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel|
Music Used in the Broadcast
|Cathedral||Galt MacDermott||Shapes of Rhythm / Woman Is Sweeter||Kilmarnock|
|Walking Papers||Booker T. Jones||The Road From Memphis||Anti Records|
|Bathtub||Galt MacDermott||Shapes of Rhythm / Woman Is Sweeter||Kilmarnock|
|Alive In Dar-Es-Salaam||Galt MacDermott||Shapes of Rhythm / Woman Is Sweeter||Kilmarnock|
|Spanish Nights||Galt MacDermott||Shapes of Rhythm / Woman Is Sweeter||Kilmarnock|
|Moving Clothes||Galt MacDermott||Shapes of Rhythm / Woman Is Sweeter||Kilmarnock|
|Crazy||Booker T. Jones||The Road From Memphis||Anti Records|
|Radio Rock||Galt MacDermott||Shapes of Rhythm / Woman Is Sweeter||Kilmarnock|
|I’m Through With You||Galt MacDermott||Shapes of Rhythm / Woman Is Sweeter||Kilmarnock|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|