Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rachel Hedman: So I was listening to the radio one night. . .

I usually do not listen to the radio except for when it comes to my alarm clock.

Curious as to what stations were popular in Eastern Tennessee, I swiveled the knob and heard a sympony of static, songs, and sounds until I stopped on WFHG SuperTalk 92.7 on July 14, 2009. Already this was unlike me, as talk radio often means sports and unless they are talking about the Green Bay Packers, I am probably not interested.

Perhaps being 10:55pm had something to do with the listening.

Strangely, I stopped to listen to a commercial. Well, maybe this is not so strange. My husband, Casey, knows that I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. Unless who are playing? Yes, the Green Bay Packers.

It might relate to the fact that I studied Communications Marketing and each class we analyzed what we saw.

Anyway, one of the commercials promoted the learning of foreign languages. Just the word "languages" caught my attention due to our Linguistics class. Then, the ending line said, "Don't try to learn a language. Absorb it."

The first image that sprung to mind was of the sponge and its ability to soak a lot of water. The word "absorb" comes from the Middle French word "absorber" in 1490 and means "to swallow up". In Latin, the word "absorbere" breaks down the word into "ab" for "from" and "sorbere" for "suck in". Sometimes it means "to drink greedily". Eating and speaking often involve the mouth. Why not use such a saying to promote learning foreign languages?

At that point, the regular programming for the talk radio came on.

Phil Valentine was the host and he opened the line for callers. At times, he read emails from people. One person voiced, "You really hacked me off." That was a violent way of saying that this particular caller would never listen to this radio station again due to the debate on whether President Obama needed to provide a live birth certificate to prove citizenship to the United States. The person's statement sounded much like what you would expect a butcher to say as he brought down his cleaver into the side of a cow.

The word "hack" came from the Old English "tohaccian" which means "to hack to pieces" or "to hew, strike". There is a slang version of hack to mean "cope with" or "get through by some effort" with the sound of "can't hack it", which was first recorded in the United States of 1955. Now we use "hack" from coughing to an illegal entrance into a computer or "creative prank".

For the caller, I will go with the butcher version, especially as the word "hack" even sounds like a cleaver falling down into the meat.

The announcer's response was to "Get off our duffs". Phil expressed that it would be better to go and do something rather than nothing. He reminded people that if they were unhappy as to the way a politian handled issues, then part of the action included to vote for other people who would fight against the unfavorable issues.

I never heard the use of "duffs" to be the same area of the buttocks, but I am sure plenty of people have used the word "duffs". The term came from the 1830s with unknown origin though the best guess would be from the Scottish culture. Interestingly, a "duffer" means "old man", "bad golfer", or "dull or stupid person". Yet, the 18th century, theives used "duffer" as slang to mean "to dress or manipulate an old thing and make it look new."

Some of the craziest names have been given, and it seems to be the comic relief of the human body.

As the radio show continued, I heard a classic plane story with turbulance. From one of the flight passengers was said, "The plane did a Charleston." Not only was the plane headed to Charleston, SC, but the reference to Charleston refers to the fast-pace dance.

The dance often involves side-kicks from the knee and was most popular in 1923 due to the name of a song named after Charleston, SC. The city itself was named after King Charles II of England. The New York Times said of the dance, "I have no objection to a person dancing their feet and head off ... but I think it best that they keep away from the Charleston." That was on July 26, 1925.

The most intrguing story was about a prison in Texas that needed to figure out how to jam cell phone signals. Some of the inmates were still doing drug deals and other criminal acts behind bars. Somehow the cell phones get snuck inside. Dogs are being trained to sniff them out. In the meantime, there are "cells found in cells". Double meanings often are ripe for jokes or for such comedy shows like Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien. . .even if they refer to dangerous activity.

The word "cell" comes from the Latin word "cella" as in "small room, hut" or the Latin word "celare" meaning "to hide, conceal". Prisoners are, in a real sense, hidden from the world. The Gothic word of "halja" is related to "cell" and means "hell" or "cave". How could these relate to cell as in "cellular telephone"?

"Cellular" comes from Modern Latin of "cellularis" or "little cell". For cell phones, an area is divided into "cells" of a few square miles to be served by transmitters. This use of the word came about in 1977.

By this time, it was 11:27pm.


I still had a few hours before my regular bedtime!

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
(801) 870-5799

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