Allusionist 21: Eponyms I: The Ballad of Bic and Biro

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Naming something after yourself: a grand display of egomania, or the humble willingness to be overshadowed by your own product?

Stationery expert James Ward tells the tale of the people who begat the eponymous ballpoint pens Bic and Biro, because, according to 99% Invisible's Roman Mars, "When it comes to word origins, an eponym is the shortest bet you’re going to get a good story out of it."

ADDITIONAL READING:

If you were creating an eponymous product, what would it be? Mine would be something which doesn't work until the very last minute, just before you throw it away in frustration.

For the next month, there will be new Allusionists every week, each featuring another Radiotopian. If you love Radiotopia's shows and want to help the collective be great, STAY TUNED. Radiotopia needs you. Visit radiotopia.fm on 19th October to find out how you can be involved.

MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
jacquerie

CREDITS:

Come back in a week's time for the next Radiotopial special edition of the Allusionist. If you don't, I'll borrow your pen and not return it.

- HZ

The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

 

Allusionist 10: Election Lexicon

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On the eve of the 2015 General Election in the UK, join me for a jaunt through the etymology of election-related words.

Find out why casting a vote should be more like basketball, how debating could descend into fisticuffs, and why polling is hairy.

FURTHER READING:

  • Producer Matt and I went out in a high wind with a megaphone to record at the place for shouting about politics through a megaphone: Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. Here's a brief history of Speakers' Corner, where people have been blowing high wind through megaphones for more than a century.
  • For those who insist upon continuing to do their campaigning indoors, here's a potted history of lobbying in the US.
  • I only briefly mentioned the origins of the Tories' name: it has a very knotty history. Read more about that here.
  • Swingometer fans! Thanks to the BBC, here're some archive videos and pictures of swingometers through history.
  • Here is the transcript of this episode.
     

MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
pismire

This episode is sponsored by Tasting Room. To order the Tasting Room starter pack of wine samples for the special price of $6.95, visit tastingroom.com/allusionist. Unfortunately this offer is only open to listeners in the USA, so we Brits will have to find some other booze to get us through the election.

You've got until 15th May to voice your opinions about podcasts (and be in with a chance to win posh Tivoli headphones) in the Radiotopia listener survey. Fill it out at surveynerds.com/allusionist; thanks very much if you've already done so.

See you in a fortnight, unless etymologocracy wins the day and I'm too drunk on power to make this show.

- HZ

CREDITS


So goddamn windy that day. The campaign trail is more challenging than I had expected.

The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.