NATE BYRNE: One of the things I find really strange when it comes to the weather is that we're all experts and all idiots at the same time.
HZ: You’re supposed to be the expert though.
NATE BYRNE: Right. Yeah! But I mean, we all live in it every day and we all feel like we understand the weather really well and we hear weather reports every single day. Now, if you are practicing a skill every day, on average you're generally excellent at it; that’s a real strength of yours. But it turns out that meteorologists typically haven't been very good at telling people what it is they're trying to tell them. So showers, just for example, means the rain's going to start and stop and start and stop; it doesn't tell you anything about the volume. Rain means it's just going to be continuous, and again doesn't tell you anything about the volume; but we have built, somehow, cultural expectations and understandings that go with those words that the scientists don't actually mean when they're using those words and it makes a really tricky job.
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Modern English is awash with portmanteau terms, words formed from two or more words spliced together. The word ‘Portmanteau’, meaning a piece of luggage, is itself a portmanteau word from the 16th century, uniting the French words ‘porter’, meaning ‘to carry’, and ‘manteau’, meaning cloak. But credit for the Frankenword sense of 'portmanteau' goes to Lewis Carroll, in Alice Through The Looking Glass. Alice asks Humpty Dumpty to help her make sense of the Jabberwocky poem, full of portmanteaus like slithy, mimsy, galumph and chortle. “You see it's like a portmanteau,” says Humpty Dumpty, “there are two meanings packed up into one word.”
Today, I want to unpack one particular portmanteau, and that portmanteau is 'brunch'.Read More