We all lead busy lives—so are speed reading courses a good idea? Plus, if you hear someone speaking with a British accent, do you tend to assume they’re somehow more intelligent? And some common English surnames tell us stories about life in the Middle Ages. Plus, a 29-letter word for the fear of the number 666, games and riddles, military brats, knocked for a loop, the first dirty word, and book recommendations for math lovers.

This episode first aired December 21, 2013.

Download the MP3.

What do you call it when you’re out in public with friends but they’re all staring at their own cell phones? A listener from Santa Monica, California, suggests that the word techgether.

 Speed Reading Classes
Are speed reading classes a waste of time? Not if you want to skim instead of read.

 Fear of the Number 666
A Kentucky cross-country runner had a case of hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia, or fear of the number 666.

 The Frequency Illusion
After you notice a certain word for the first time, chances are you’ll start seeing it all over the place. That’s known as the frequency illusion, coined by linguist Arnold Zwicky, and it happens because of confirmation bias.

 Two Hookers and Two Lookers Riddle
What has two hookers, two lookers, four stiff-standers, four diddledanders, and a wig wag?

 Animal Kingdom Counterparts Quiz
Quiz Guy John Chaneski have a game matching people with their animal kingdom counterparts.

 Military Brat
Is the term military brat a pejorative?

 Books on Onomastics
Many common English surnames–such as Taylor, Miller, Shoemaker, Smith, and many others–tell a story about life in the Middle Ages. Two good books on the study of names, also known as onomastics, are The Surname Detective and a Dictionary of English Surnames, both by Colin D. Rogers.

 Jack Handy Quote
“The face of a child can say it all. Especially the mouth part of the face.” That deep thought is brought to you by Jack Handy.

 Etymology of Moose
The plural of moose is moose. The word’s roots are in the name of the animal in the Algonquian language Abenaki.

 Duck Duck Gray Duck
Listeners who grew up playing the children’s game Duck Duck Gray Duck insist that this Minnesota version of Duck Duck Goose is more complicated and therefore more fun.

 Accent Implying Intelligence
Why do so many Americans think British accents automatically connote intelligence?

 Southern Sentence about a Dilemma
In parts of the South, it’s not uncommon to end a sentence about a dilemma with the word one, short for one or the other, as in “I’m going to quit my job or get fired, one.”

 The First Dirty Word
How did the first person to say a dirty word know it was a dirty word? Geoffrey Hughes’ Encyclopedia of Swearing is a great source on this.

 Books for Math Lovers
For the math lovers out there: Listeners on our Facebook page recommend Fermat’s Enigma by Simon Singh, and In Pursuit of The Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed The World by Ian Stewart.

 Origin of “Thrown for a Loop”
The idiom thrown for a loop most likely derives from boxing and the image of someone knocked head over heels.

 Waiting for a Bone Riddle
A riddle: What runs over fields and woods all day, under the bed at night sits not alone with its tongue out, waiting for a bone?

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

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters . Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Broadcast

The Surname Detective by Colin D. Rogers
Dictionary of English Surnames by Colin D. Rogers
Encyclopedia of Swearing by Geoffrey Hughes
Fermat’s Enigma by Simon Singh
In Pursuit of The Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed The World by Ian Stewart

Music Used in the Broadcast

Title Artist Album Label
Caretera Panamericana Piero Umiliani To-Day’s Sound Liuto Records
Truck Driver Piero Umiliani To-Day’s Sound Liuto Records
Green Valley Piero Umiliani To-Day’s Sound Liuto Records
Mellow (Version) Karl Hector and The Malcouns Sahara Swing Stones Throw
Tidal Stream Piero Umiliani Il Corpo Soundtrack Sound Work Shop
Princess Piero Umiliani Il Corpo Soundtrack Sound Work Shop
Softly Sonora The Cabildos Crossfire Vroommm
Mystical Brotherhood Karl Hector and The Malcouns Sahara Swing Stones Throw
Borderland The Cabildos Crossfire Vroommm
Habana Keynote The Cabildos Crossfire Vroommm
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book Verve
Tagged with →  

  1. Bill Davis says:

    I never thought about it, but my parents (Deep South, y’all) added that post-dilemma “one” in my hearing as I was growing up in San Diego! I suppose it’s short for “one or the other.”

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.