John, Grant Barrett, Martha Barnett discussed on A Way with Words: language, linguistics, and callers from all over


You're listening to away with words, the show about language and how we use it. I'm grant Barrett. And I'm Martha Barnett. Grant, we've gotten a lot of reaction to our conversation with Haley. She's the poet in Minnesota who wondered if there weren't more terms for the seasons than just winter spring summer and fall. The times between the seasons where something weather wise is happening, but it doesn't really fit the other categories. And it turns out that there are lots of terms for those mini seasons. We heard from David Alice in Burlington, Vermont, who says in his state, they also have something called stick season. And stick season is once the leaves of all fallen and there's no snow on the ground yet, typically in November. David says, I suppose, because autumn is so spectacular here that it's quite the contrast when the leaves are suddenly down the forests look like big sticks. And he says he'd never heard of that until he moved to Vermont, and we also heard from Linda lavalette, who lives in rural upper Michigan, and she said, we refer to the time between winter and spring as mud season. We heard that from more than a few listeners, Muncie's in his very popular around the country. I don't think they throw parties, but they don't look forward to it. No, not at all. And it reminds me that in old English before we started using the term February for that second month of the year, there was the term Saul monath, which may mean mud month, which makes a lot of sense. Yeah, at least in the northern hemisphere mud month. Oh, this is good. What do you call the other seasons of the year, not winter spring summer fall or autumn, but the times in between? Let us know 877-929-9673 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or email your thoughts ideas or questions about anything having to do with language to words at wayward radio dot org or talk to us on Twitter at WA Y O RD. Hello, you have a way with words. Hi. How are you? My name's Natalia. I'm calling from Rhode Island. Yeah, we're glad to have you, Natalya. What's up? I had a question about a phrase that we always used to use in my family, and it's when you're driving behind a car for a really long time on the highway. And you develop kind of a relationship with them. And it's always for a car that's really reliable and they're driving the speed limit and they're very safe and you can just kind of follow them for a long time sometimes hours. And we are always used to call them the follow John, like, oh, you know, we've got a great follow, John in front of us, or looks like our follow John is exiting. So we're going to have to find another one. And every time that you have to leave or they had to leave a kind of felt like you're breaking off a relationship. And I just realized that we might be the only people in the U.S. who use that phrase. It kind of came to asana in a funny path. And I didn't know if there was another word for it that we could use that maybe other people will understand and relate with. You said there's a story about follow John and how it became a family expression? Yeah, so the world originally from Poland. And before we moved to the U.S., my family lived briefly in Sweden. And they had a friend who owned just like a little sailboat. And every time that he found the sailboat, that seemed to actually know what they were doing. And how to navigate in the water and where to go. He'd always yell out. Follow John. And so then it caught on with my family when we moved to the U.S.. We kept it, and when we would use the phrase on the highway, it was always the only English phrase in what was otherwise a Polish sentence. And for years, I thought that that's just what Americans call that car. Oh my gosh. And I no longer think that's the case. I have never heard it, Martha. No, this is follow John in, right? Like JO 8 ten well, I mean, I don't know because it came from a Swedish person into our Polish family and into the U.S.. So I don't think there's a correct spelling. We only ever said it in the car. Oh, okay. But it's like somebody's name, it sounds like. Yes, although it was never John, it's always the name of the car was follow John. Right. Yeah. Like a compound. It's like a compound, right? Gosh, no. I have never heard of this. It does remind me of I have a friend from childhood who was on a really long drive to Florida, and he and this other woman kept passing each other and they would serve as, you know, to use your term, they would serve as each other's follow John, and it got to be kind of funny, and they started waving to each other, and the gas gauge got lower and lower, and at some point, my friend John scribbled the term coffee with a question mark on a piece of paper stuck it up in the window. They go to a truck stop in the next thing I know a few weeks later, his family is talking about freeway Jane and I'm saying, who is freeway James? And my friend John and freeway Jane got married. Oh, that's awesome. Oh my goodness. Wow. I mean, it really is like a relationship that you develop. Just a whole nother level. Yeah, but you may have given us a word for this because grant, I'm not aware of any term follow John. I mean, I use terms with less kind of story behind them like road buddy or pace car, pace car coming from car racing. And it's come up a few times on Reddit, I remember, and people there say things like car buddy or travel buddy, but these are all to be expected. These are all terms that you would create for that kind of person. But this is a shared experience. A lot of people have. That you talked to Natalia about the reliability of the other car. That's so important when you're in it for the long haul. They're making good lane choices, and they're doing a lot of passing. And that's what you want to do too. So you don't tire yourself out. Exactly. Exactly. They make the drive easier. And then when they leave, it's like a little part of your drive leads to. Yeah. There's a term coined by the social psychologist Stanley Milgram, familiar strangers. This was in his 1972 paper called the familiar stranger and aspect of urban anonymity, and it's about this these people that you see in your life constantly, but you don't really know. You know them and their behavior and where you encounter them regularly and maybe even you nod or do a little hand wave or a chin jut or something like that. But all they are is still strangers, but you're a little more likely to talk to them, should you be sitting next to them, say, in the theater or encounter them in line for food at a restaurant, just because they're I love that. Familiar strangers. Well, Natalia, if anybody else listening uses a term or uses follow John for this kind of relationship, I know we'll hear about it. And I'm so glad you brought up this topic. Yeah, thank you so much for having me on. I would love to hear what other people call that car. Me too. Take care. Bye bye. All right, thank you. Bye. Take care. Bye bye. If you've got a word for Talia's experience of having a road buddy or a car body, this vehicle that you follow and they become your friend, even though you don't really know them, but you're following them for hours. If you have a name for that, let us know 877-929-9673 email words at wayward radio dot org or tell us on Twitter at hello, you have a way with words. Hello, this is Diana. From Socrates, New York, in the Hudson valley. Oh, nice. What's on your mind, Diana? Well, I really, really love hearing about the derivation of words.

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