Memorial Day good wishes to you and the remembered. Here's another newsletter from "A Way with Words."
Did you miss us? There was no newsletter last week, so now we have two brand-spanking-new episodes to share.
This past weekend we had got a handle on poetry, talked about "troop" being used to refer to one person, mused about figurative use of "literally," took a look at the F-word in historical uses, played a word quiz, and lots more. Listen:
Two weekends ago was also a stellar program. What makes some words automatically funny? How should "February" be pronounced? What's a shivaree? Is it "a scissors" or "a pair of scissors"? Get answers to those questions and more:
We'd like to welcome our new listeners tuning in to KXOT in Seattle and Tacoma and throughout the Puget Sound, our new listeners to Yellowstone Public Radio tuning in across most of Montana and northern Wyoming, and our new listeners to WLRN HD in Miami. Howdy!
There's lots of hot stuff to talk about:
Is it time to stop printing diplomas in Latin?
If you say "that sucks!" are you really saying something sexual? No! The sexual origin is not not the original meaning. An article about it from USA Today contains a quote that is spot-on: "The word sucks was an innocent word that developed a powerful and vulgar sexual connotation related to the taboo subject of fellatio." Read more:
William Safire muses about the youthful tendency to abbreviate: "I have gone figging and now believe that the youth of each generation is shortnin'-bred. We cannot attrib the present syllabic slicing exclusively to text messaging, Twittering or the latest cellphoney-baloney; rather, lopping off word endings is not laziness but a function of generational insularity. No tradition is more time-honored than rebellion against linguistic tradition. Youth must not only be served, but its insecure communications must also have its own coded server."
Is Barack Obama's blackness revealed in his speech? "Ta-Nehisi Coates links, and offers a minor quibble to, a piece by black linguist John McWhorter on 'how Obama and Steele use the cadence and jargon of black English.' McWhorter argues that Steele’s clumsy use of outdated hiphop jargon is exactly what you’d expect of him."
In Canada "bagged" means "tired."
Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett