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Say What? The Words We Say & Why We Say Them

Say What? The Words We Say & Why We Say Them

By Jo Vraca

Say What?!

The words we say, why we say them and where they come from.

I’m Jo Vraca and each episode, I’m going to rub shoulders with the glitterati of the English language where we’ll learn that some of the more colourful, and even banal, words that we use every day have very un-English origins.

I will look into how these everyday words came to mean what they do today. So we’ll be rocking through dictionaries AND encyclopedias.
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Catfishing: A Long History of a Very New Word

Say What? The Words We Say & Why We Say Them

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The Radical left and Why Left isn't Right
Do you know where the word “left” comes from? Well, in Latin, it’s Sinister, in all of its evil definitions.  So let’s break it down. How did sinister come to mean left and why is the left sinister?  Why does my mum think that left handers are evil? What does ancient bird divination, and the toilet habits of some cultures have to do with it? And what about the French Revolution? In today's episode, I break down the word LEFT and its very sinister history. Join me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/saywhatthepodcast Please share and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app    including Apple - it makes it easier for others to find the show. Or find your favourite listening app HERE Sound engineering and original music by Jeff Willis. You can find his tunes on Spotify and iTunes Produced by Jo Vraca. You can find my books on Amazon
19:22
November 22, 2021
Stockholm Syndrome - Abba, Patty Hearst and Anna Freud
Just in case you’re wondering, I have a real weak spot for curiosities and curious people – you know, people who behave irrationally, rule breakers and general riff raff. I’m quite fond of these people. Well… When I say “fond”, I don’t mean the – take me to your leader type of fondness but, rather, I just want to understand what makes people behave the way they do. And that’s why Stockholm Syndrome is this episode’s focus. I use the term Stockholm Syndrome here and there, and while I know what it means, I didn’t actually know where it originated. For some reason I thought it had something to do with kajillionnaire heir Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army (more about that later). And while the term originates from around the same era, it was actually an altogether different kidnapping event that led to the term being coined. So what exactly is Stockholm Syndrome? We'll travel through the 1930s and the 1970s to find out. Join me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/saywhatthepodcast Please share and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app   including Apple - it makes it easier for others to find the show. Or find your favourite listening app HERE Sound engineering and original music by Jeff Willis. You can find his tunes on Spotify and iTunes Produced by Jo Vraca. You can find my books on Amazon
18:04
November 8, 2021
Catfishing: A Long History of a Very New Word
We’ve heard the word, Catfishing, and doesn’t it feel like it’s been part of the zeitgeist forever? But Catfishing, as it’s used in popular culture, is a relatively new term, from 2010, actually. And it was coined by a documentarian. In this episode, I look at the history of the word catfishing, and actually take a look at its very long, but hidden history that has everything to do with catfish and cod.  So let’s deconstruct this! Join me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/saywhatthepodcast Please share and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app  including Apple - it makes it easier for others to find the show. Or find your favourite listening app HERE Sound engineering and original music by Jeff Willis. You can find his tunes on Spotify and iTunes Produced by Jo Vraca. You can find my books on Amazon
16:51
October 25, 2021
Tomboy - Is it Time to Retire This Word? No way!
What is up with the word Tomboy? Is it even politically correct to say it anymore? Without turning this into a gender studies episode, we’re going to learn where the word comes from, how it came to mean what it did, if it even does mean the same thing today, and the various translations because, yes, tomboys are everywhere and every country has its own nuanced definition and you may be surprised to learn that well, it’s a little more complex than sex, gender constructs and whether you wear skirts and climb trees. So let’s deconstruct this! Today's episode features Freud's Masculinity Complex, Calamity Jane, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel's Suzie Myerson, and I completely butcher some foreign languages. Sorry. Join me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/saywhatthepodcast Please share and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app  including Apple - it makes it easier for others to find the show. Or find your favourite listening app HERE Sound engineering and original music by Jeff Willis. You can find his tunes on Spotify and iTunes Produced by Jo Vraca. You can find my books on Amazon
16:31
October 11, 2021
Gaslight: Manipulation, Asylums & Old Hollywood
Since the 2016 election that gave Donald Trump a platform, not to mention the presidency, the word has been everywhere. But what does it mean? Where does gaslight come from? We hear a lot about ghosting. You know, it’s when someone ends a relationship suddenly without warning and just disappears, with no contact. Nothing. But what about gaslighting. According to Wiktionary, "The verb sense derives from the 1938 stage play called Gas Light, in which a husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment." Recently, I watched the original movie from 1940, which was based on the stage play of the same name by Patrick Hamilton. The film, besides being super dramatic in the way movies were back then – you know, close ups of crazy eyes, that sort of thing, it was actually fascinating to see where the term that we use so freely today, actually came from. Join me as I travel through the last century to find the origins of this fascinating word. Join me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/saywhatthepodcast Please share and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app including Apple - it makes it easier for others to find the show.  Or find your favourite listening app HERE  Sound engineering and original music by Jeff Willis. You can find his tunes on Spotify and iTunes  Produced by Jo Vraca. You can find my books on Amazon
18:07
September 27, 2021
Quarantine - The Plague, Lepers, Covid and Goats
When you think of quarantine, what comes to mind? Leper colonies of the past? Two weeks to flatten the curve? A hundred years ago, when leprosy was considered a public health risk, people were quarantined off for life. There was no cure for leprosy back then, and while only a few hundred people were ever recorded to have leprosy in the United States, it was claimed that a few thousand were likely to exist in hiding, to avoid a life of quarantine. So how did quarantine get its name? And what was quarantine like before the current pandemic? I go back into ancient history to show you that, actually, nothing much has changed. Oh, and goats. Goats definitely get a mention today! Join me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/saywhatthepodcast Please share and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app  including Apple - it makes it easier for others to find the show. Or find your favourite listening app HERE Sound engineering and original music by Jeff Willis. You can find his tunes on Spotify and iTunes Produced by Jo Vraca
16:16
September 13, 2021
Vanilla - Cake, Princesses and Bondage
It's the most hashtagged flavour of icecream, the second most expensive spices in the word, and it's much maligned. How did vanilla go from being a rare orchid that, to this day, is hand-pollinated, to meaning boring? And what does it have to do with bondage? We'll find out in this episode. Join me on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/saywhatthepodcast Please share and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app including Apple - it makes it easier for others to find the show. Or find your favourite listening app HERE Sound engineering and original music by Jeff Willis. You can find his tunes on Spotify and iTunes Produced by Jo Vraca
11:22
August 26, 2021
Say What?! The Podcast Trailer
Hi word nerds and history geeks, you’re tuned into Say What. I’m Jo Vraca and each episode, I’m going to rub shoulders with the glitterati of the English language where we’ll learn that some of the more colourful, and even banal, words that we use every day have very un-English origins. Where do our everyday words come from? Have they always had the same meaning? Who came up with them and who polices them? Yes, you heard me right. And it’s not just the origins that I’m going to explore. I will look into how these everyday words came to mean what they do today. So we’ll be rocking through dictionaries AND encyclopedias exploring the what, when, how, who and most definitely the why of words. Like vanilla. How did a flavouring that is use in cakes and icecreams come to mean, in some circles boring, hum-drum, run-of-the-mill (and yes, we’ll be talking about bondage and S&M for this one). How did vanilla come to mean “basic” when the actual vanilla pod is one of the most expensive spices in the world, requires bees and hummingbirds to pollinate, and only grows in very select climates? And how about spinster? Today it’s come to mean a sad and miserable unmarried childless woman (and I have a bit to say about that!) but did you know that a spinster was once an independent, unmarried working woman? And let’s not forget that one of the fiercest queens England was a celebrated spinster (and possibly a virgin). And in today’s age of qanon, I’ll tell you how we came to use the term Tin Foil Hat to refer to conspiracy theories. Jack Black will make an appearance in this story. And have I mentioned quarantine? Now that’s a history I can’t wait to share with you. And we’ll launch a grenade at problematic words that just need to be buried. Of course, as an Italian (Sicilain, actually) living in Australia, we’ll head down the slippery slope of Aussie vernacular because it’s often hilarious. So who am I to talk about language? I’m a lover and a fighter. I’ll start and end sentences with prepositions because when we know the rules, we can break them. I may be a grammar autocrat, but I’m not here to teach grammar and tell you that what you’re saying is wrong. But don’t use whom incorrectly, because that is one word that drives me crazy. I’ll say cactuses and octopuses knowing I’ll be ridiculed because I know what’s right. I’m a Sicilian living in Australia, I only spoke Italian, Sicilian actually, until I started school, and I went on to study French, Spanish, Italian and French linguistics, so I’m the perfect wanker for this task. So… Join me as I travel along the road of words and sayings that we use, pretty much on the daily, but that we never really spare a thought for. End Do you have a word or phrase that you always wondered about and wish someone else would do the research on? Send me an email. You can also find me on Instagram as saywhatthepodcast where I’ll share even more of my daily encounters with words and the people who butcher them.
04:05
August 22, 2021