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Pig Latin

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Grant and Martha discuss the L-word — or two L-words, actually: liberal and libertarian. They reflect different political philosophies, so why do they look so similar? Also, is the term expat racist? A journalist argues that the word expat carries a value judgment, suggesting that Westerners who move to another country are admirable and adventurous, while the term immigrant implies that someone moved out of necessity or may even be a burden to their adopted country. Finally, what do guys call a baby shower thrown for the father-to-be? A dad-chelor party? Plus, glottalization, film at 11, grab a root and growl, and pig Latin. This episode first aired January 27, 2017.

Pedal in Sauerkraut

 In a futile situation, English speakers might say that we’re spinning our wheels. The French have a phrase for the same situation that translates as “pedal in sauerkraut.” The Illustrated Book of Sayings collects similarly colorful idioms in other languages. There’s a Turkish expression that literally translates as “grapes darken by looking at each other,” meaning that we’re influenced by the company we keep. In Latvian, there’s an expression that means “to prevaricate,” but literally it translates as “to blow little ducks (out of one’s mouth).”

A Baby Shower for Dad

 An Austin, Texas, listener says he and his buddies are throwing a baby shower for a dad-to-be, but they’re wondering what to call a baby shower thrown for the father. A man shower? A dad-chelor party?

Go Back Like Car Seats

 “We go back like car seats” is a slang expression that means “We’ve been friends for a long time.”

Liberal vs. Libertarian

 The political terms liberal and libertarian may look similar, but they have very different meanings. Both stem from Latin liber, “free,” but the word liberal entered English hundreds of years before libertarian.

Hindi Expressions

 “Half-filled pots splash more” is the literal translation of a Hindi expression suggesting that those who make the most noise have the least worth noticing. Another Hindi idiom translates literally as “who saw a peacock dance in the woods?” In other words, even something worthy requires publicity if it’s going to be acknowledged.

Container Clues Puzzle

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a puzzle of Container Clues, in which one word is inserted whole into another to create a new word. For example, if the definition is “kind of potatoes,” and the clue is “she is in mad,” what kind of potatoes are we talking about?

American Glottalization

 A Carmel, Indiana, teacher is puzzled to hear younger colleagues pronounce the words kitten and mitten as KIH-un and MIH-un, with a noticeable break between the syllables. Linguist David Eddington of Brigham Young University reports that this phenomenon, called glottalization, is a growing feature of American dialect, mainly among young women in their twenties and thirties, particularly in the western United States.

Clothing Duds

 A New York City caller wonders why we refer to clothing as duds. The term dates back to the 1300s, when the word dudde referred to a cloak or mantle of coarse cloth. Over time, it came to refer to shabby clothing, and eventually acquired a more neutral meaning of simply “clothes.” The earlier sense of “ragged” or “inferior” may also be reflected in the term dud, denoting something that fails to function.

Film at 11

 For English speakers of a certain age, film at 11 is a slang phrase means “You’ll hear the details later.” It’s a reference to the days before 24-hour cable news, when newscasters would read headlines during the day promoting the 11 p.m. broadcast, when viewers would get the whole story, including video. It was famously parodied in Kentucky Fried Movie.

Grab a Root and Growl

 The exhortation grab a root and growl is a way of telling someone to buck up and do what must be done. The sense of grabbing and growling here suggests the kind of tenacity you might see in a terrier sinking his teeth into something and refusing to let go. This phrase is at least 100 years old. A much more rare variation is grab, root, and growl. Both expressions are reminiscent of a similar exhortation, root, hog, or die.

Is “Expat” Racist?

 Is the term expat racist? Journalist Laura Secorun argues that the word expat implies a value judgment, suggesting that Westerners who move to another country are adventurous, while the term immigrant suggests someone who likely moved out of necessity or may be a burden to society in their adopted country.

Be There Directly

 In much of the United States, the phrase I’ll be there directly means “I’m on my way right now.” But particularly in parts of the South, I’ll be there directly simply means “I’ll be there after a while.” As a Marquette, Michigan, listener points out, this discrepancy can cause lots of confusion!

So at the Beginning of Sentences

 Why do so many people begin their sentences with the word so? This sentence-initial so (as it’s known) can play lots of roles. We’ve talked about it before, too.

The Pig in Pig Latin

 “Ix-nay on the ocolate-chay in the upboard-cay” is how you’d say “nix on the chocolate in the cupboard” in pig Latin. English speakers have a long history of inserting syllables or rearranging syllables in a word to keep outsiders from understanding. The pig in pig Latin may just refer to the idea of pig as an inferior, unclean animal.

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

Photo by Joel’s Goa Pics. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Book Mentioned in the Episode

The Illustrated Book of Sayings

Music Used in the Episode

TitleArtistAlbumLabel
Sirens Of JupiterThe OlympiansThe OlympiansDaptone
SaturnThe OlympiansThe OlympiansDaptone
SuperbadSuburban Soul CrewShafted! – 70’s Instrumental Funk ClassicWarner
VenusThe OlympiansThe OlympiansDaptone
Yo SlickSuburban Soul CrewShafted! – 70’s Instrumental Funk ClassicWarner
Volcano VapesSure Fire Soul EnsembleOut On The CoastColemine Records

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