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Preview: Double-Tongued Dictionary

A Way with Words



A radio program and podcast about language.



Last Build Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2017 18:11:32 +0000

 



Hidden Treasures

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 18:03:06 +0000

A new online archive of Civil War letters offers a vivid portrait of the everyday lives of enlisted men. These soldiers lacked formal education so they wrote and spelled by ear. The letters show us how ordinary people spoke then. • Is there a single word that means the opposite of prejudice? Unhate? Or maybe [...]


Media Files:
http://feeds.waywordradio.org/~r/awwwpodcast/~5/braVKVMXIEs/171120-AWWW-Hidden-Treasures.mp3




Go to Grass

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Go to grass is In the 1600s, go to grass meant to be knocked down. In the 1800s, the phrase was the equivalent of telling someone to die and go to hell. Go to grass has also been used to refer to a racehorse or working horse that’s been retired from service. A variant is [...]



Raise Your Words

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A saying attributed to the 13th-century poet Rumi goes, “Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” This is part of a complete episode.



Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A woman in Council Bluffs, Iowa, says that when her mother was indicating that two things were roughly equal, she’s say they were six and one half dozen of the other. The more common version is six of one and half a dozen of the other or six of one, half a dozen of the [...]



Salisbury Steak

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Salisbury steak is named for Dr. James H. Salisbury, who prescribed what he referred to as “muscle pulp of beef” for Civil War soldiers suffering from so-called camp diarrhea. This is part of a complete episode.



Onus

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A woman in Suffolk, Virginia, is curious about the origin of the word onus, as in responsibility. The word onus is borrowed directly from Latin where it means burden. This Latin word is also the root of the words onerous, which describes something burdensome, and exonerate, meaning to free from a burden. This is part [...]



The Southern Stress on the First Syllable in Words like Cement and Police

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A man from Fort Smith, Arkansas, says his Canadian wife is baffled by his pronouncing the word cement as CEE-ment. Stressing the first syllable of such words as police, insurance, umbrella, and vehicle is an occasional feature of Southerners’ speech. This is part of a complete episode.



A Particular Civil War Letter

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Martha reads a special letter from the U.S. Civil War soldier who wrote this letter. This is part of a complete episode.



Bungalow Belt

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

An Indianapolis, Indiana, woman offers a followup to our discussions about various geographic belts around the country. The Bungalow Belt in Chicago refers to a strip of small brick bungalows just inside the city limits originally occupied by Catholic European immigrants. This is part of a complete episode.



Take the Devil Out of It

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A San Antonio, Texas, woman wonders about a tradition she grew up with. Before drinking an alcoholic beverage, you hand the drink to someone else to have a sip in order to take the devil out of it. This is part of a complete episode.



The Opposite of Prejudice

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A researcher in Port Jefferson, New York, wonders if there’s a single word that means the opposite of prejudice. Unhate? He suggests the word allophilia, a combination of Greek words that mean love or like of the other. This is part of a complete episode.



Hidden Treasure Word Game

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Quiz Guy John Chaneski has us looking for Hidden Treasures, specifically terms for valuable items you might find in adjacent sounds in a sentence. For example, the name of a precious metal is hidden in the following sentence: “If you don’t reach your goal, don’t get discouraged.” This is part of a complete episode.



Bobbery

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

The term bobbery means a noisy disturbance or hubub. The word’s origin is disputed, although one explanation is that it comes from the Hindi exclamation “Bap re!” or literally, “Oh father!” This is part of a complete episode.



Puckeroo

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, woman says her family has long used the term nun puckeroo to designate a kind of vague, non-serious malaise. Neither Martha nor Grant knows that exact one, but the Dictionary of American Regional English gives similar jocular terms for such illness, including none-puck in Delaware and rum puckeroo in Rhode Island. Any [...]



Pill Meant Bullet

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

In the Private Voices corpus of American Civil War letters, the term pill is often used to mean bullet, although this slang term is at least a century older. This is part of a complete episode.



Origin of “Flea Market”

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A flea market is a type of bazaar, usually outdoors, where vendors of secondhand and discount goods sell their wares. But why flea market? The term probably reflects the influence of two linguistic strains: In 18th-century New York City, the Fly Market took its name from a similar-sounding Dutch word. Later, English speakers adopted the [...]



Civil War Letters

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Private Voices, also known as the Corpus of American Civil War Letters, is an online archive of thousands of letters written by soldiers during the U.S. Civil War. Because the soldiers lacked formal education and wrote “by ear,” the collection is a treasure trove of pronunciation and dialect from that time and place. One phrase [...]



Butterflies in Your Stomach

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 19:35:48 +0000

If you’re not using a dictionary to look up puzzling words as you read them, you’re missing out on a whole other level of enjoyment. • When you’re cleaning house, why not clean like there’s literally no tomorrow? The term death cleaning refers to downsizing and decluttering specifically with the next generation in mind. The [...]


Media Files:
http://feeds.waywordradio.org/~r/awwwpodcast/~5/6Pe3hMRPZeA/171113-AWWW-Butterflies-in-the-Stomach.mp3




What is “Sterile” in “Sterile Area”?

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A Bay Area listener says she always giggles when she sees a sign in the Oakland airport that reads, “You are leaving a sterile area.” Among security experts, the term sterile specifically means an area that is officially under control and clear of threats. This is part of a complete episode.



Are Words Not in a Dictionary Really Words?

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A nonprofit that promotes literacy in Reno, Nevada, held a spelling bee in which adult competitors were asked to spell words from books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The author made up some of those words herself. But are they really words if they’re not in the dictionary? Yes, if it’s said or written [...]



The Greek Root “Stenos”

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

The word stenophagous means eating a limited variety of food. It derives from Greek stenos, meaning narrow, also found in stenography (literally, narrow writing) and stenosis, a medical term for abnormal narrowing. This is part of a complete episode.



What Do Some People Put the Dollar Sign After the Amount?

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A Dallas, Texas, listener is annoyed when he sees a price listed with the dollar sign after the amount, rather than before, as in 500$ rather than $500. In some parts of the world, however, the currency symbol routinely follows the number. This is part of a complete episode.



Vicenarian and Tricenarian

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

If you’re in your 20s, you’re a vicenarian. The word for someone in their 30s is tricenarian. This is part of a complete episode.



Looking Up Unfamiliar Words

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Martha shares an email from a listener from Delray Beach, Florida, about the rewards of looking up unfamiliar words in the dictionary. This is part of a complete episode.



Death Cleaning

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Death cleaning is the translation of a Swedish term, döstädning, describing a kind of de-cluttering later in life, when you downsize to make things easier for the next generation. It’s being popularized by The Gentle Art of Death Cleaning by Margareta Mangusson. This is part of a complete episode.



I Reckon in the US vs. UK

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

The phrase I reckon meaning I suppose is marked in the United States as rural, rustic or uneducated. The term is centuries old, however, and used widely in the United Kingdom. This is part of a complete episode.



Motorcycling Slang

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Skid lid, cage, and backyard are all slang terms from the world of motorcycle enthusiasts. A skid lid is a helmet, a cage is an automobile, and a backyard is a favorite place to ride. The phrase lay it down means to have a motorcyle accident. This is part of a complete episode.



Shoulder Season

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A woman in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, wonders: Why is the less busy period in a tourist area known as the shoulder season? This is part of a complete episode.



Set of Twins

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

If you tell someone you have a set of twins, does that mean you have two kids or four kids? It depends on the meaning of the word set. This is part of a complete episode.



Exclamation Word Puzzle

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Quiz Guy John Chaneski has a quiet quiz involving words that are usually shouted. Suppose, for example, someone said, “Excuse me, Mr. Horse, I’d appreciate it if you stopped. What’s the exclamation suggested by this request? This is part of a complete episode.



Denarian

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

If you’re between the ages of 10 and 19, you’re a denarian. This is part of a complete episode.



Word for Being Excited but Anxious

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A woman and her 10-year-old daughter are looking for a word that describes being excited but anxious. It’s not exactly twitterpated, and the Southernismlike a worm in hot ashes is vivid, but a phrase and not a single word. If a single word for this feeling exists, maybe it involves butterflies? This is part of [...]



Marrow Vegetable

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A listener in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, was surprised to learn that in England the word marrow refers to zucchini. This is part of a complete episode.



Potable Pronunciation

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

How do you pronounce the word potable, which means drinkable? A woman in the Navy stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, says most of her fellow sailors pronounce it with a short o, but she pronounces it with a long o. The word derives from Latin potare, meaning to drink, and traditionally the long o sound in [...]



Names of Age Decades for Old People

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Someone in their 70s is septuagenarian, someone in their 80s is an octogenarian, and someone in their 90s is a nonagenarian. Someone in their 50s is a quinquagenarian, and if they’re in their 40s, they’re a quadragenarian. If they’re between 100 and 110, they’re a centenarian, and older than that, well, congratulations! In that case [...]



Catch You on the Flip Side

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:53:23 +0000

Some countries have strict laws about naming babies. New Zealand authorities, for example, denied a request to name some twins Fish and Chips. • Halley’s Comet seen centuries before English astronomer Edmund Halley ever spotted it. That’s an example of Stigler’s Law, which says no scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer. Funny thing [...]


Media Files:
http://feeds.waywordradio.org/~r/awwwpodcast/~5/LPrSpKI2fAc/171106-AWWW-Catch-You-on-the-Flip-Side.mp3




Another Country Heard From

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A grandmother in Ferndale, California, wonders about a phrase her own grandmother used. If one of the grandchildren walked into a room and joined a conversation already taking place, she’d exclaim, “Oh! Another country heard from!” Although her grandmother used the expression affectionately, traditionally, it’s had a more dismissive sense. It derives from an older [...]



Kyarn or Cyarn

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A listener calling from the public library in Chowan County, North Carolina, says her father used the word kyarn to describe something unpleasant or repulsive, as in describing something that isn’t worth a kyarn or stinks like kyarn. Also spelled cyarn, this dialectal term derives from the word carrion, which means dead or rotting flesh. [...]



Antigrams

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

An antigram is a variety of anagram, in which the letters of one word are rearranged to create its opposite. Examples of antigrams include united and untied, and the word forty-five, which anagrams to over fifty. This is part of a complete episode.



Should You Really Cut Adverbs From Your Writing?

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Author Stephen King’s book On Writing is an excellent guide to the craft. In it, he warns that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Much other writing advice also says to cut adverbs, and even adjectives. But is that truly good advice? Grant and Martha don’t think so. Also, check outthe work of [...]



Stigler’s Law

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Stigler’s Law is states that no scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer. Halley’s Comet, Fibonacci numbers, the Pythagorean theorem, and the Bechdel test all bear the names of people who didn’t discover or formulate them. The funny thing is, Stephen Stigler, the University of Chicago statistics professor credited with this law of eponymy, [...]



New Zealand Baby Name Laws

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

New Zealand also has strict naming laws, but somehow the Violence, Number 16 Bus shelter, Midnight Chardonnay, and twins named Benson and Hedges all passed muster. However, the proposed names Stallion, Yeah Detroit, Sex Fruit, and Fish and Chips didn’t make the grade. This is part of a complete episode.



Why Did They Write the Letter “s” Like “f”?

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A Montreal, Canada, woman wonders why sometimes in old manuscripts the letter s looks like the letter f. A great resource on this topic is Andrew West’s blog Babelstone. This is part of a complete episode.



Baby Name Laws

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

The former student of a Spanish teacher in Valdosta, Georgia, will soon give birth in her homeland, the Czech Republic, one of several countries that have strict naming laws. The mother-to-be would like to name her son Lisandro, but needs official evidence that Lisandro a legitimate baby name. There is, by the way, a dictionary [...]



Lawyer Up Word Puzzle

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s puzzle features variations on the phrase lawyer up, in which the answers are a verb followed by the word up. For example, if someone’s in his car and trying to change gears, but getting a little verklempt about it, what’s he about to do? This is part of a complete episode.



Sterilize -> Listerize

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

The letters in the word sterilize can be rearranged to form the synangram Listerize. This is part of a complete episode.



Over Yonder

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A San Diego, California, man wonders about the meaning and distribution of the directional phrase over yonder. This is part of a complete episode.



On the Flip Side

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

A New York City listener wonders about the origin and literal meaning of the phrase catch you on the flip side. It’s a reference to the B side of vinyl records. It was popularized as part of truckers’ CB lingo in the 1970s. This is part of a complete episode.



Synanagrams: Synonymous Anagrams

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:51:47 +0000

Anagrams are words formed by rearranging the letters of another word, such as star and arts. As Paul Anthony Jones points out on his site Haggard Hawks, some words can be anagrammed to a synonymous word, such as enraged and angered, or statement and testament. Such pairs are known as synanagrams. This is part of [...]



All Verklempt

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 16:47:29 +0000

Of all the letters in the alphabet, which two or three are your favorites? If your short list includes one or more of your initials, that’s no accident. Psychological research shows we’re drawn to the letters in our name. • If you doubt that people have always used coarse language, just check out the graffiti [...]


Media Files:
http://feeds.waywordradio.org/~r/awwwpodcast/~5/6rrLm-J6Zq4/171030-AWWW-All-Verklempt.mp3