What is the expression 'beyond the pale' on about? How do you express the absence of feeling? Does 'testify' have anything to do with testicles? Do avocados have anything to do with testicles? How does the phrase "It's all Greek to me" relate to food styling? Can you have a caper with capers? Are sharks misunderstood, etymologically and morally? And finally: where do allusions come from?Read More
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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."
- Eponyms are swarming all over the place! Particularly when it comes to medical terms, about which there are lots of good little stories about the latter at Whonamedit? Looks like some of those eponymizers are very high achievers.
- You can read James Ward's delightful book Adventures in Stationery (AKA The Perfection of the Paperclip in some territories), and/or you can read about James Ward and his book to whet your appetite.
- Learn more about Thomas 'Bowdlerization' Bowdler. Also listener Mededitor shared this post about bowdlerized Shakespeare.
- Here's a brief history of pens; here's a slightly longer history of pens; and here's the picture dictionary version of the corporate history of Bic.
- Here's a transcript of this episode.
- Here's Roman's tweet that started this whole thing.
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:
- Roman Mars is El Groso of Radiotopia. Find him at twitter.com/romanmars, and 99% Invisible at 99pi.org.
- James Ward is El Groso of Boring Conference. Find him at twitter.com/iamjamesward.com and at iamjamesward.com. And in case you've already forgotten from where I linked to it above, you can buy his book Adventures in Stationery.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Thanks to Martin Austwick for the music and editorial help, and to Seth and Alison for letting me and Roman record in their Wendy House.
- Communicate with me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.
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.
The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.
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.
- 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.
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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.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman, with megaphone assitance from Matt Hill. Matt tweets as @virtualmatthill and makes numerous podcasts and apps, including Spark London and the Media Podcast. Find more of his work at rethinkdaily.co.uk.
- All the music is by Martin Austwick. Hear more of it at http://thesoundoftheladies.bandcamp.com/.
- Find me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.
WARNING: this episode is full of FOUL PROFANE LANGUAGE. I suggest you don't listen to it through loudspeakers at a christening.
Today I'm trying to figure out why 'cunt' is considered to be a ruder swear word than others like 'twat' which mean the same thing, or male equivalents like 'dick' and 'knob'. A few hundred years ago, cunt was sufficiently not-rude that there were streets named Gropecunt Lane in most of Britain's major market towns; yet now, it is top tier of the hierarchy of offensiveness. But maybe in another few hundred years, it will have been supplanted by 'swear word' or 'Jeff'. Find out why: listen now via iTunes, SoundCloud, miscellaneous podcast directories, or RSS.
- If you enjoyed hearing about Gropecunt Lane, then I'm sure you'll like the triumphant tale of Tickle Cock Bridge.
- There's a very interesting discussion of 'bloody' and other religious swear words on episode 44 of the brilliant podcast No Such Thing As A Fish.
- Study TS Eliot's poem 'The Triumph of Bullshit'.
- See Eve Ensler perform The Vagina Monologues.
- Worried about whether to spell bellend 'bellend', 'bell-end' or 'bell end'? The editor of the Sunday Sport has the definitive answer.
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This episode was sponsored by Squarespace.com. Use the code ALLUSION to get 10% off their website-hosting and -building services for a year. Perhaps you could run a store selling Bullshit Centenary memorabilia.
Presented and produced by Helen Zaltzman.
Leon Wilson helms such bawdy television shows as Celebrity Juice.
Jane Garvey uses only the most fragrant language when she presents Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. Her range of cockwipes will be in stores soon.
Thanks to all the people who contributed their rudest swear word, including the good people of Maximum Fun, but especially Tom Jenkinson's mum.