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Loaded for Bear

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One way to make your new business look trendy is to use two nouns separated by an ampersand, like Peach & Creature or Rainstorm & Egg or … just about any other two-word combination. A tongue-in-cheek website will generate names like that for you. And: In the traditions of several African countries, names for babies are often inspired by conditions at the time of their birth, like a period of grief or wedding festivities, or the baby’s position when leaving the womb. In Zambia, for example, some people go by the name Bornface, because they were born face up. Also, slang from a rock-climber, who warns not to go near rock that’s chossy. Plus: a proverbial puzzle, loaded for bear, pizey, helter-skelter and other reduplicatives, shirttail relative, counting coup, just a schlook, a brainteaser, and lots more.

This episode first aired September 14, 2019.

Ampersands & Business Names

 Following in the tradition of Crate & Barrel and other businesses that include an ampersand in their names, the Hipster Business Name Generator offers fanciful names for trendy companies, such as Rainstorm & Egg or Peach & Creature. In the past, children reciting the alphabet were taught to include this pretzel-like symbol in the spot for the 27th letter, referring to it as and per se and, which eventually became ampersand.

Multiple Meanings of “Loaded for Bear”

 Heather from Sacramento, California, wonders about the phrase loaded for bear: Her husband thinks it describes someone who is thoroughly prepared and eager to do something, but her mother-in-law thinks it specifically describes someone belligerent and ready to fight. The phrase can mean either and can also be used to describe someone who is intoxicated.

Pronunciation of “Oil”

 Emma in Texas has a dispute with her dad over the pronunciation of the word oil. The Linguistic Atlas of the Gulf States records no fewer than eight different pronunciations of this word.

Anagramming a Proverb Quiz

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s brain-buster involves changing the meaning of proverb by anagramming one of its words. For example, John says his friend owned a string of pottery franchises, but it all came to nothing when one of the ovens fell apart, a story that aptly illustrates the proverb: “A chain is only as good as its strongest _______.”

Helter-Skelter Reduplicatives

 Jerrell in San Antonio, Texas, is curious about the term helter-skelter, meaning “haphazardly.” English is full of such reduplicatives, also called rhyming jingles, flip-flop words, or echo words. They fall into three categories: one-syllable rhymes such as choo-choo and doo-doo; ablaut reduplications involving a vowel change, such as clip-clop, chit-chat, and wishy-washy; and rhyming reduplicatives that involve a change in the initial sound, such as helter-skelter, super-duper, lovey-dovey, hurly-burly, willy-nilly, and higgledy-piggledy. The reduplicative term boris-noris, which found in 19th-century dialect dictionaries, means “carelessly” or “recklessly.”

Shirttail Relative

 A shirttail relative is someone considered a family member, even if they’re not related by blood. The word shirttail can also denote a small amount, as in a shirttail of sugar.

Schlook

 Terra in Gillespie, Wisconsin, says her family uses the word schlook to mean a tiny amount of liquid, as in just a schlook of milk. It’s from the German noun Schluck, which means “a swallow” or, informally, “a good drop of drink.”

The Given Name “Bornface”

 Jonathan in Fall River, Wisconsin, says when he worked in Zambia he met many people named Bornface, supposedly because they were born face-up. In The African Book of Names, Ashkari Johnson Hodari explains that it’s common throughout sub-Saharan Africa to name individuals with reference to conditions or events happening at the time of their birth, such as a wedding, a period of grief, conflict with another group, the baby’s birthing position, and other things.

Wonderclout

 A wonderclout is something that appears amazing but is actually quite useless. An old meaning of clout is “rag.”

More Thin Places

 Listeners weigh in on our discussion about thin places, those locales where the mundane and mystical appear to merge.

Chossy Climbing Conditions

 Chris from San Diego, California, says he and fellow rock-climbers use the term chossy to describe rock that’s dangerously crumbly. It’s probably a corruption of the word chaos. To choss up means “to wreck.”

A Clever Pangram

 Our discussion about pangrams, those sentences that include every letter of the alphabet at least once, inspired a sharp listener to send us this one: How skillfully my acupuncturist jabs a needle into quivering flesh, exacting a zing!

Counting Coup

 Counting coup refers to a tradition among the Plains Indians of North America of winning prestige and showing dominance by edging close enough to an enemy to strike him without dealing a deathblow.

Pizey

 Pizey is an old dialectal term from the United Kingdom that means “peevish” or “irritable.” Pizey and pize, as in A pize upon you! may be related to the word poison.

Barefoot Misunderstanding

 On Twitter, a linguist reports that she and her Russian husband had a humorous misunderstanding about the meaning of the word barefoot.

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

Music Used in the Episode

TitleArtistAlbumLabel
Amigo De La MuerteIl CarbonaroAmigo De La Muerte 45Colemine Records
Marsh GasGalt MacDermotShapes Of RhythmKilmarnock
High NoonIl CarbonaroHigh Noon 45Colemine Records
Featherbed LaneMestizo BeatFeatherbed Lane 45Colemine Records
If Our Love Is RealGalt MacDermotShapes Of RhythmKilmarnock
PnuemoniaKool and The GangPnuemonia 45De-Lite Records
Handcuffed To The ShovelMestizo BeatFeatherbed Lane 45Colemine Records
Volcano VapesSure Fire Soul EnsembleOut On The CoastColemine Records

Book Mentioned in the Episode

The African Book of Names

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