A listener in New York City wonders about how to pronounce gerrymander, which means “to redraw the lines of an electoral district so as to favor a particular political party.” The term comes a joking reference to Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry, who in 1812 presided over such a redistricting. Gerry pronounced his name with a hard g (like the G in Grant) and for a while, the gerrymandering retained that pronunciation. In the absence of audible mass media, the name spread, but the pronunciation slowly shifted. By 1850, for example, an Indiana politician alluded to this variation, declaring, “You are constantly gerrymandering the State, or jerrymandering, as I maintain the word should be pronounced, the g being soft.” This is part of a complete episode.
- Loaded for Bear (episode #1531) 09/16/2019: One way to make your new business look trendy is to use two nouns separated by an ampersand, like Peach & Creature or Rainstorm &... [more]
- Mrs. Astor’s Horse (episode #1530) 07/29/2019: "What has a head like a cat, feet like a cat, a tail like a cat, but isn't a cat?" Answer: a kitten! A 1948... [more]
- At First Blush (episode #1529) 07/15/2019: Book recommendations and the art of apology. Martha and Grant share some good reads, including an opinionated romp through English grammar, a Spanish-language adventure novel,... [more]
- Gift Horse (episode #1528) 07/01/2019: The edge of the Grand Canyon. A remote mountaintop. A medieval cathedral. Some places are so mystical you feel like you're close to another dimension... [more]
- Had the Radish (episode #1527) 06/21/2019: Your first name is very personal, but what if you don't like it? For some people, changing their name works out great but for others... [more]