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Lie Like a Rug

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The words we choose can change attitudes — and change lives. A swing-dance instructor has switched to gender-neutral language when teaching couples. He says that using words like “leader” and “follower” actually works better than using gendered terms. But not everyone agrees. Plus, a pithy observation about how stray comments can seem meaningless at the time, but can lodge in other people like seeds and start growing. Plus, slang you might hear in Albuquerque, sufficiently suffonsified, make ends meet, cut a chogi, and minders, finders, and grinders. This episode first aired February 4, 2017.


 A listener in Shreveport, Louisiana, reports that after a fine meal, her father used to announce, “I have dined sufficiently, and I have been well surossified.” It’s a joking exaggeration of the word satisfied. In a 1980 article in American Speech, former editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English Frederic G. Cassidy reported lots of variations, including suffancifed, suffencified, suffoncified, suffuncified, and ferancified. Another version of the phrase goes, “My sufficiency is fully surancified; any more would be obnoxious to my fastidious taste.” We also talked about it in 2011.

Stranded Prepositions

 A 1957 story by James Thurber includes a sentence with oddly stranded prepositions.

Place Names Starting with “The”

 Why do some place names include the word the, as in The Hague or the Bronx?

Kick Over the Traces

 The word traces denotes the long, thin leather straps that secure a horse to a wagon. The expression to kick over the traces, meaning “to become unruly,” refers to the action of a horse literally kicking over those straps and getting all tangled up. It can be used metaphorically to describe a person who rebels against authority or tradition.

Re Word Quiz

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s game involves misreading memos that start with re:. For example, if Don Draper of Sterling Cooper Draper Price leaves a message asking you to “comprehend written matter,” what’s the subject of that message?

Toasted Slang

 A San Antonio, Texas, listener says some of her friends use the word toasted to mean “drunk” and some use it to mean “high on marijuana.” Which is it?

Minders, Grinders, and Finders

 Attorneys use the terms minders, grinders, and finders to refer to different roles in a law firm. Finders get the business, grinders do the business, and minders keep the business.

Cut a Chogi

 To cut a chogi, also spelled choagy or chogie, is an English slang term meaning “Let’s get out of here.” It probably stems from Korean: cheogi or jeogi means “there” (it’s opposite, yeogi, means “here”). and was picked up by U.S. soldiers during the Korean War.


 The medical term sialogogic, which means “producing saliva,” comes from Greek words meaning “to bring forth saliva.”

Lie Like a Rug and Hang Like a Curtain

 A San Diego, California, man says that when he got into trouble as a boy, his mother would say, “You lie like a rug and you hang like a cheap curtain.”

Belly Robber

 If you go to a party and the host neglects to put out the food that guests brought, or offers only a small portion of it, they’re what you might call a belly robber.

Offhand Remarks Have Lasting Effects

 The Humans of New York series of portraits and quotations includes one subject’s wise observation about how a single offhand remark can change a life.

Gender Neutral Dance Terms

 A swing-dance instructor in Burlington, Vermont, says gender-neutral language has been well-received in his own dance classes. Instead of the words man and woman, he now uses leader and follower. He reports this not only helps clarify his instructions but makes everyone feel welcome. Swing dancer Cari Westbrook has detailed discussions about the pros and cons of such gender-neutral language, as well as the word ambidanectrous, on her blog The Lindy Affair.

Make Ends Meet

 To make ends meet means to make money last through the end of a calendar period.

Psychic Disequilibrium

 Poet Adrienne Rich wrote powerfully of the “psychic disequilibrium” that occurs when people don’t see their own identities reflected in the language of others, “as if you looked in the mirror and saw nothing.”

Burqueño Slang

 Burqueño slang, spoken by residents of Albuquerque, New Mexico, includes such expressions as umbers, said ominously when someone’s caught doing something wrong, as well as get down, meaning “to get out of a vehicle” and put gas for “fill a vehicle’s gas tank.” Then there’s the Burqueño way to get off the phone: bueno bye!

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

Photo by Alan L. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

Dictionary of American Regional English

Music Used in the Episode

MarsThe OlympiansThe OlympiansDaptone
NeptuneThe OlympiansThe OlympiansDaptone
Apollo’s MoodThe OlympiansThe OlympiansDaptone
The Selma MarchHis Majesty King FunkGrant GreenVerve
Odessa HeatSoul ScratchPushing FireColemine Records
Diana By My SideThe OlympiansThe OlympiansDaptone
Pluto’s LamentThe OlympiansThe OlympiansDaptone
Cantaloupe WomanHis Majesty King FunkGrant GreenVerve
Mercury’s OdysseyThe OlympiansThe OlympiansDaptone
Volcano VapesSure Fire Soul EnsembleOut On The CoastColemine Records

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