A Way with Words

Lie Like A Rug (Rebroadcast) - 4 March 2019

March 4, 20190 sec
The words we choose can change attitudes--and change lives. A swing-dance instructor has switched to gender-neutral language when teaching couples. He insists that using words like "leader" and "follower" actually works better than using gendered terms. But not everyone agrees. Plus, a pithy observation about how stray comments can seem meaningless at the time, but can lodge in other people like seeds and start growing. Plus, slang you might hear in Albuquerque, sufficiently suffonsified, make ends meet, cut a chogie, and minders, finders, and grinders. FULL DETAILS Sometimes English grammar means that prepositions and adverbs pile up in funny ways. Take, for example, "It's really coming down up here" or "Turn left right here." A listener in Shreveport, Louisiana, reports that after a fine meal, her father used to announce, "I have dined sufficiently, and I have been well surossfied." It's a joking exaggeration of the word satisfied. In a 1980 article in American Speech, former editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English Frederic G. Cassidy reported lots of variations, including suffancifed, suffencified, suffoncified, suffuncified, and ferancified. Another version of the phrase goes "My sufficiency is fully surancified; any more would be obnoxious to my fastidious taste." A 1957 story by James Thurber includes a sentence with an oddly stranded preposition. Why do some place names include the word The, as in The Hague or the Bronx? The word traces denotes the long, thin leather straps that secure a horse to a wagon. The expression to kick over the traces, meaning "to become unruly," refers to the action of a horse literally kicking over those straps and getting all tangled up, and can be used metaphorically to describe a person who rebels against authority or tradition. Quiz Guy John Chaneski's game involves misreading memos that start with Re: For example, if Don Draper of Sterling Cooper Draper Price leaves a message asking you to "comprehend written matter", what's the subject of that message? A San Antonio, Texas, listener says some of her friends use the word toasted to mean "drunk" and some use it to mean "high on marijuana." Which is it? Attorneys use the terms minders, grinders, and finders to refer to different roles in a law firm. Finders get the business, grinders do the business, and minders keep the business. To cut a chogi, also spelled choagy or chogie, is a slang term meaning "Let's get out of here." It probably stems from Korean words meaning "go there," and was picked up by U.S. soldiers during the Korean War. The medical term sialogogic, which means "producing saliva," comes from Greek words meaning "to bring forth saliva." A San Diego, California, man says that when he got into trouble as a boy, his mother would say, "You lie like a rug and you hang like a cheap curtain." If you go to a party and the host neglects to put out the food that guests brought, or offers only a small portion of it, they're what you might call a belly robber. The Humans of New York series of portraits and quotations includes one subject's wise observation about how a single offhand remark can change a life. A swing-dance instructor in Burlington, Vermont, says gender-neutral language has been well-received in his own dance classes. Instead of the words man and woman, he now uses leader and follower. He reports this not only helps clarify his instructions but makes everyone feel welcome. Swing dancer Cari Westbrook has detailed discussions about the pros and cons of such gender-neutral language, as well as the word ambidanectrous, on her blog The Lindy Affair. To make ends meet means to make money last through the end of a calendar period. Poet Adrienne Rich wrote powerfully of the "psychic disequilibrium" that occurs when people don't see their own identities reflected in the language of others, "as if you looked in the mirror and saw nothing." Burqueno slang, spoken by residents of Albuquerque, New Mexico, includes such expressions as umbers, said ominously when someone's caught doing something wrong, as well as get down, meaning "to get out of a vehicle" and put gas for "fill a vehicle's gas tank." Then there's the Burqueno way to get off the phone: bueno bye! This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine. -- A Way with Words is funded by its listeners: http://waywordradio.org/donate Podcast listeners, contact us with your questions and comments! Email words@waywordradio.org or call toll-free 24 hours a day (877) 929-9673 in the US and Canada. Everywhere else call +1 (619) 800-4443. https://waywordradio.org/ Copyright Wayword, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation. All rights reserved.

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