You pick up what you think a glass of water and take a sip, but it turns out to be Sprite. What’s the word for that sensation when you’re expecting one thing and taste something else? Also, slang from college campuses, like ratchet and dime piece. And the story of a writer who published her first novel at age 73, then went on to win a National Book Award. Plus, the origins of bluebloods, Melungeons, Calcutta bets, Vermont Cree-mees, and the phrase used to buck someone up, “can’t died in a cornfield.” This episode first aired October 11, 2013.
There’s nothing like a refreshing gulp of water, unless what you thought was water turns out to be vodka or Sprite. When the expectation of what you’ll taste gives way to surprise, shock, and offense, you’ve experienced what one listener calls cephalus offendo. You might also call it anticipointment.
A listener from Charlottesville, Virginia, is dating a professional golfer who often plays a Calcutta with other tour members. Calcutta, a betting game going back over 200 years, involves every player betting before the tournament on who they think will finish with the lowest score. It was first picked up by the British in and around—you guessed it—Kolkata, also known as Calcutta.
If you say you can’t accomplish a task, someone might remind you “Mr. Can’t died in a cornfield.” This old saying is particularly evocative if you’ve ever been stuck in a cornfield, because it’s easy to think you won’t make it out. Another version of this phrase is “can’t died in the poorhouse.”
Blueblood, a term often used to refer to WASPy or patrician folks, goes back to the 1700s and the Spanish term sangre azul. It described the class of people who never had to work outside or expose themselves to the sun, so blue veins would show through their ivory, marble-like skin.
What’s the difference between drunk and drunken? If you dig through the linguistic corpora, or collections of texts, you’ll find that we celebrate with drunken revelry and break into drunken brawls, but individuals drive drunk and or get visibly drunk. Typically, drunken is used for a situation, and drunk refers to a person.
Harriet Doerr published her first novel, Stones for Ibarra, at the age of 73. It won a National Book Award.
The term Melungeon, applied to a group of people in Southeastern Appalachia marked by swarthy skin and dark eyes, has been used disparagingly in the past. But Melungeons themselves reclaimed that name in the 1960s. The Melungeon Heritage website details some of the mystery behind their origin. The name comes from the French term melange, meaning “mixture.”
Photo by JPDC. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Book Mentioned in the Episode
|Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr|
Music Used in the Episode
|The Beehive||Resonance||Pocket Records|
|Slop Jar||Charles Kynard||Woga||Mainstream Records|
|Rock Steady||Charles Kynard||Woga||Mainstream Records|
|A Man And A Woman||David McCallum||Music – It’s Happening Now||Capitol Records|
|Set Me Free||Resonance||Pocket Records|
|Off Time||Resonance||Pocket Records|
|Jesse’s Jing||In Motion Collective||Jesse’s Jing||Colemine Records|
|If I Were a Carpenter||David McCallum||Music – It’s Happening Now||Capitol Records|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|