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Wet Brick

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What the fox says may be a mystery, but we do know that dogs bark differently around the world. In China, for example, they say not bow-wow but wang wang.  Also, the story behind the British tradition of scrumping. It’s not a middle school dance craze, and it has nothing to do with beer — or does it? Plus, recipe vs. receipt, mash vs. press, housing a beer, all bollixed up, and “empty heads make weary bones.” This episode first aired November 23, 2013.

Response from Inside the Bathroom Stall

 What’s an appropriate response when someone knocks on your bathroom stall? How about “You can come in, but you can’t sit down!”


 Scrumping is a Britishism for “stealing apples off your neighbors’ trees.”

It’s a Thing

 Father Dominic from Chicago wonders when “It’s a thing” became, well, a thing.

Receipt and Recipe

 The word receipt is occasionally used a synonym for recipe, as in “a list of ingredients in a dish and instructions on how to make it.” Both words come from the same Latin root, recipere, meaning “to receive.” The use of receipt for recipe is old-fashioned and probably won’t be around that much longer.

Phatic Replacements Word Game

 Listen closely for the phatic replacements in our Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s game of idle chitchat.


 “Ballocks!”, an exclamation of frustration or skepticism, is cognate with the word balls, and literally means “testicles.” Its use is considered far more racy in Great Britain than in the United States.

When to Use Commas

 How do you decide when to use a comma? One strategy is to read your writing aloud and decide what sounds best.

Afghan Proverb for New Hires

 “A new servant can catch a running deer” is a proverb from Afghanistan that aptly describes those zealous recent hires.

Snot on a Doorknob

 Few things are slicker than snot on a doorknob.

One Hair has a Shadow

 “Even one hair has a shadow.” This translation of the Latin proverb Etiam capillus unus habet umbram is a reminder that even the smallest thing can have large consequences.

Daddy Ain’t No Glassmaker

 If someone’s standing between you and the TV, you might say “Your daddy ain’t no glassmaker!” Grant and Martha have another version, where you might ask them “Have you been drinking muddy water?”

Slang “House”

 To house something, as in to house a beer or to house a pizza, is slang for “consuming something really fast.”

Kiss Like a Wet Brick

 The Western Folklore Journal of 1976 gives us such romantic phrases as “kisses like a cold fish,” “kisses like your brother through a screen,” and “kisses like a wet brick.”

The Dog Says “Wang-Wang”

 In China, dogs say wang wang instead of woof woof. Wikipedia has a great list of such cross-linguistic onomatopoeias. Of course, we all know what the fox says.

Walking Behind the Plow

 Ever find yourself stuck behind someone who walks like he’s behind a plow?

Empty Heads

 “Empty heads make weary bones,” so don’t forget what you went looking for or you’ll wind up exhausted for no reason!

Mash the Brake

 To mash the brake or mash the elevator button comes from a Southern instance of mash meaning “to press something hard.”

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

Photo by Liz West. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Music Used in the Episode

AlipidSandro BrugnoliniOvergroundCinedelic Records
Spear For Moondog, Part 2Jimmy McGriffElectric FunkBlue Note
PolyphonySandro BrugnoliniThe SeventiesCostanza Records
RoxySandro BrugnoliniOvergroundCinedelic Records
MegatteraSandro BrugnoliniFlipper PsychoutVampi Soul
Deeper and DeeperJackie MittooStudio One Musik CitySoul Jazz Records
I Can’t Stop DancingGroove HolmesWorkin’ On A Groovy ThingWorld Pacific Jazz
Miami HeatRKM Music LibraryBeat ActionRKM
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffElla Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book Verve

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