Amelia, Ohio, South London discussed on A Way with Words: language, linguistics, and callers from all over


We got an intriguing voicemail from will hasseltine, who was telling us about the first pep rally he ever attended. It was when he was in kindergarten, and he remembers his teacher getting the kids ready by saying, we're going to a pepper alley, or at least that's what he told his mom later that day that we all went to a pepper alley, and his mom, of course, thought that was really, really funny, that little misunderstanding. But he swears that that's what his teacher said, we're going to a pepper alley, and we'll want to know, is there such a thing? And of course, that's what I thought was an adorable childhood misunderstanding, but the truth is there is such a thing as pepper alley. But it's not the same thing as a pep rally, which you would do at school where everyone gathers to cheer on the team that's going to fight in the big game against their dreaded opponents. That's right. But if you look in slang dictionaries, you'll see that pepper alley is actually a state of being beaten up. It comes from boxing slang, where the verb to pepper, of course, means to hit somebody repeatedly. You pepper them with punches, but it's also a pun on a place in South London called pepper alley, where apparently a lot of this went on. So will is still convinced all these years that he heard correctly as a kindergartner. I mean, maybe his teacher was from Britain or something. But I suspect it's just a mishearing, but it's kind of adorable that he's still hanging on to the belief that he heard correctly. Absolutely. Will there's probably a really good chance that you misheard. But, you know, keep believing brother. Grant and I love to hear about those childhood misunderstandings, and you can share yours by calling us 877-929-9673. Hello, you have a way with words. Hi, my name is Amelia. And I'm calling from Arlington, Virginia. Welcome to the show. Hey, Amelia. Thank you. I have something that my wife said recently that I was wondering if you could help me out with. Well, yes, please. She and I have been married for a number of years now are both in our mid 30s and we're both from the Midwest. She's from Iowa and I'm from Ohio. Everyone she'll say something that I've never heard before never heard anyone else say before. So I get to figure out is it an Ohio thing or just something her family says or something she's made up herself. Most recently, she said she was talking about our neighbor who was wearing these sweatpants that had holes all the way through them and she said, oh wow, he's really getting the goodie out of that pair of pants. And I realized, yeah. See, I could tell that you met, she's getting the most out of them. She's like, get the goodie out of it. And I thought, you know, it kind of sounds like a phrase that people say, but then I realized I thought more about it. I don't know anyone else who says that. And her mom was in town recently, and she said it, and I asked her about it, she didn't know where it came from. And her sister also says it. So it's definitely in their family, but nobody knows where it came from and I tried looking it up online and there really isn't much out there about this phrase. So I was curious if you guys had any insight onto it. Well, I think that that's probably pretty straightforward is probably related to the idea of a goodie being the edible kernel of a nut, particularly Hickory nuts and walnuts. Since the late 18th century or so, the term goody has been used to mean something tasty or desirable, you know, like candy or even hard to get at crab meat, you know, get the goody out of a crab shell. Let's see. It's also been used for the yolk of an egg, so the good part, I guess, of an egg. And the flesh of an orange sometimes. Oh wow. Yeah. So all those words are kind of the same. They come from the same place, like the middle of something. Kind of. Yeah. Yeah, the middle, and also just the good part. You know, like a goody bag has goodies in it, or a goody picker. I love that term, goody picker. It's a pointed instrument for digging the meat out of a nut. Is it regional at all? All over. Goody is kind of scattered throughout much of the United States. The south and a little bit in the Midwest. So I'm not surprised that your wife picked that up there. That's interesting about the nut because her mother, my mother in law, grew up on a farm and her dad had a bunch of black walnut trees and would like harvest them and their stories about her the basement being full of walnuts. So I wonder if they know that we had a walnut tree, whatever house is, I know that feeling. Yeah. They are all about scarred about it. I think this is how much it's stained on. Oh, that's really interesting. Well, I'll pass it along to them. I think they'll be interested to hear. All right. Amelia, thank you for helping us get the goodie out of this question. Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much. Thanks a lot. Best of your wife. Thanks. Bye. Bye bye. When you marry into a family, you don't just marry your spouse. You marry their language. And there's a lot that you might not understand. Martha and I can help you sort that out. 877-929-9673, or talk to us on Twitter at W ay WO RD. Our team includes senior producer Stephanie Levine, engineer and editor Tim Felton, production assistant Rachel Elizabeth weissler, and quiz guy John Chanel. We'd love to hear from you, no matter where you are in the world, go to wayward radio dot org slash contact. Subscribe to the podcast here hundreds of past episodes and get the newsletter at wayward radio dot ORG. Whenever you have a language story or question, our toll free line is open in the U.S. and Canada. One 8 7 7 9 two 9 9 6 7 three, or send your thoughts to words at wayward radio dot org. Away with words is an independent production of wayward Inc, a nonprofit supported by listeners and organizations who are changing the way the world talks about language. Special thanks to Michael Brest Lauer, Josh eccles, Claire rotting Bruce rogo, Rick sidon worm and Betty Willis. Thanks for listening. I'm Martha Barnett. And I'm grant Barrett until next time, goodbye. Bye.

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