What do your pronouns say about your own psychological makeup? If you use the word I a lot, does it mean you’re a leader . . . or a follower? A surprising study suggests that people of lower status in a group tend to use I the most. Also, a look at why businesses intentionally misspell the names of their products. Sometimes it’s a smart marketing strategy — and sometimes it’s a necessity. Plus, bunt vs. butt, Duck Duck Gray Duck vs. Duck Duck Goose, alumnae vs. alumni, the silent s in island, throwing a wobbly, and “Holy old jumping up baldheaded!”
This episode first aired November 9, 2013. It was rebroadcast the weekend of April 6, 2015.
Companies sometimes intentionally misspell a product’s name in order to get customers’ attention. These deliberate mistakes, such as Cheez Whiz, Krispy Kreme, and Froot Loops, are also called sensational spelling or divergent spelling.
German Scrap Cake
Restekuchen, or baked goods made with leftover ingredients, are popular in Germany, where their name translates as “scrap cake.”
From the Twitter feed of @anagramatron comes this apt pair of anagrams: Annoying kids all around me anagrams to I sound like an angry old man.
Music on Boydog
Turn the music down, it doesn’t need to be on boydog! Have you heard this synonym for “the highest level”?
Throw a Wobbly
To throw a wobbly means lose self-control in a panic or temper tantrum, or to cause consternation by acting in a surprising way.
Funny Softball Team Names Puzzle
Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a game about funny softball team names. For example, the real-life name of the Whitney Museum’s employee softball team? Why, they’re the Whitney Houstons, of course.
Silent S in Island
If you were stranded on a desert island, wouldn’t you get to thinking how odd it is that we don’t pronounce the s in island? It was added during the Renaissance in an attempt to make the word look more like its Latin source, insula.
International Versions of “Say Cheese!”
Say cheese! isn’t the only phrase photographers use to get people to smile. Sometimes French speakers ask the subject of a photo to say ouistiti, which means “marmoset.” Omniglot has a collection of these terms from photographers around the world.
Duck, Duck, Gray Duck Game
In Minnesota and some nearby states, the children’s game Duck Duck Goose is known as Duck Duck Gray Duck.
When you follow up with someone you’ve not heard from in a while to let them know their email was hacked, you might call it a malware reunion.
Stitch in your Side
The stitch in your side that results from laughing goes back to the thousand-year-old use of the verb stitch to refer to a sewing needle poking through something.
Eating Corn through a Picket Fence
How wide are the gaps between your teeth? Wide enough to “eat corn on the cob through a picket fence?”
Use of First-Person Singluar
Contrary to what you might think, new research by psychologist James Pennebaker suggests that people who use the pronoun I a lot actually tend to occupy the lower status in a conversation. In addition, Pennebaker and his associates found that people who are lying tend to avoid speaking in the first-person singular.
Alumnae vs. Alumni
Alumnae is the plural for a group of all-female former students, while alumni is the term for all-male groups, or co-ed groups. The male singular is alumnus, and the female is alumna. In informal settings, you can just use alum or alums.
The bunt, that deliberately short hit in baseball, was long interchangeable with butt, as in two rams butting heads.
Trust us, you don’t want brown kitties. This dialectal term is another name for bronchitis.
Jumping Up Bald-Headed
“Holy old jumping up baldheaded!” is a colorful exclamation with ties to both Jesus of Nazareth and Gary Busey. (In Busey’s case, the phrase was Holy Jumped-Up Baldheaded Jesus Palamino.)
Sharpen an Egg
Among some Spanish speakers, the slang phrase sacapuntas en huevos refers to someone so stubbornly persistent, they could sharpen an egg.
This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.
Photo by Chris Yunker. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Music Used in the Episode
|Cirotil||Sandro Brugnolini||Overground||Cinedelic Records|
|Respondico||Sandro Brugnolini||Underground||Record TV Discografica|
|Bold and Black||Ramsey Lewis Trio||Another Voyage||Cadet|
|Free Dimension||Piero Umiliani||To-Day’s Sound||Liuto Records|
|Nostalgia||Piero Umiliani||La Ragazza Fuoristada||Liuto Records|
|Atmosphere||Piero Umiliani||Piano Fender Blues||Omicron|
|Uhuru||Ramsey Lewis Trio||Another Voyage||Cadet|
|Dorette||Wolfgang Lauth Quartet + 2||Lauth Quartet||Fonit Cetra|
|Topless Party||Piero Umiliani||Svezia Inferno E Paradiso||Omicron|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|
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