Robbie in San Antonio, Texas, wonders about an expression he heard from his mother, who spent many years in Germany. If two people have the opportunity to do something, but neither of them does it, she’d say It fell between chairs. In English, we get across the same idea by saying someone sat between two stools or fell between two stools. In fact, versions of the phrases sitting on two chairs or sitting on two stools or falling between two chairs or falling between two stools occur throughout European languages, going all the way back to the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca. This is part of a complete episode.
- Mystery Drawer (episode #1555) 10/12/2020: Amid court-ordered busing in the 1970s, a middle-school teacher tried to distract her nervous students on the first day of class with this strange assignment:... [more]
- Deviled Eggs (episode #1554) 09/14/2020: Some TV commercials launch catchphrases that stick around long after the original ads. The exclamation Good stuff, Maynard! is still a compliment almost 40 years... [more]
- Play It by Ear (episode #1553) 08/31/2020: How does social context shape our perception of language? When hiking the Appalachian Trail, a young woman from Wyoming found that fellow hikers assumed she... [more]
- Moon Palace (episode #1552) 08/17/2020: What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry — some of... [more]
- Online Event August 27, 2020: Lemonade, Anyone? 08/04/2020: ... [more]