Take a Hike, You Diphthong!

Yesterday we were listening to the Mike Waters morning radio program on one of Iowa’s great radio stations, KOKZ. It’s called the Waters Wake-Up Call. He always has something funny to ask listeners about and encourages them to call in with an opinion.

We heard him say he wanted listener feedback on the word “diphthong.” I wasn’t sure whether he wanted legitimate comments on maybe the definition of the word or suggestions on how to use the word differently.

Sena thought she heard Mike say he is a former schoolteacher, and that would make sense for his mentioning the word “diphthong.” She might be right, although I can’t find anything on the KOKZ website which verifies or even mentions that.

We switched stations before we heard anything more from listeners about diphthongs.

But it made me curious about the whole diphthong thing, so I googled the definition. I knew it had something to do with two vowel sounds in words. I don’t remember Mike saying what the definition is. Anyway, Merriam-Webster and other sources on the web define it as the sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable. The best example is the word “toy.” The vowel combination of “oy” makes you say o which glides into e. There are several diphthongs in English, but other languages have them as well, such as Spanish.

You can read about the conventional definition if you want. After checking out the web for something maybe more humorous or weird about diphthongs, I discovered that it’s sometimes used as an insult, “Get lost, you diphthong!”

There’s this web site called Language Log that I’ve linked to on my blog a while ago about another word, “splooting,” which refers to an animal (like a squirrel) lying flat on the ground with its limbs splayed out in order to cool off on hot days.

It turns out Language Log also has a lot of comments about “diphthong.” It’s a word that does sound like an insult. One guy wrote a column on the web about it, entitled “Oy, You Diphthong!

The Urban Dictionary defines it as a vowel combination combining a weak vowel with a strong one, and also says, “It is more commonly used as an insult, seeing as it is a legitimately funny word.”

I wonder if that was what Mike Waters was fishing for?

It does sound funny. If you substitute it for certain lyrics in a song, like, for example, “You Are My Sunshine,” you get,

“You are my diphthong, my only diphthong…You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my diphthong away.”

Or maybe “Camptown Races,”

“Gwine to run all night, gwine to run all day, I bet my money on a diphthong nag, somebody bet on the bay.”

The Grinch song?

“You’re a diphthong, Mr. Grinch.”

The expletive possibilities are probably endless:

“Are you diphthonging me?”

“Get diphthonged!”

“I don’t give a diphthong what you say!”

Have we done enough diphthonging language skills discussion for today?

You’re welcome.

The Little Mundanities of Life

Sena says I need to write about some mundanities, so I will. She says the mundane things in life are important. She told me about an episode of The Waltons she saw years ago, which emphasized the importance of life’s little mundane things. I looked for the episode on the web, but couldn’t find it.

We wash and dry dishes the old-fashioned way. We never use our dishwasher, so it’s like brand new. Sena overheard a conversation two women had at the store about a kind of pre-wash spray you can get that will make it easier to get dishes cleaner when you do them the old-fashioned way. They discussed the pros and cons at length. Neither one of them bought the product.

She got a bottle of that Dawn dishwashing liquid in the upside-down bottle. You get less soap. But you can squeeze out the soap without flipping it.

She can’t seem to get the coffee maker lid down in the morning sometimes. That’s why I took a picture of it. The mundanity of it. I fixed it later in the afternoon.

Without the mundanities, life would probably wear us out. Just think if you had to tolerate a day full of odd events, like the one we heard about on the KOKZ Iowa’s Classic Hits Radio 105.7 morning program yesterday, Mike Waters Wake-Up Call. It was about this crazy rooster who crowed until he fainted. This was a pretty exciting meme in December of 2020.

When we heard it on the radio, we actually heard the THUD when the rooster finally keeled over. Could you stand that level of hilarity all the time every day?  Of course not! I wonder if that fainting consequence could apply to other situations?

Politician: “And if you elect me, I promise—THUD!”

Bigfoot Hunter: “If I hear that little twig snapping noise one more time, I will run over there and confront the hulking—THUD!”

Car Salesman: “This little coupe has only 2,000 miles on it, driven by a little old lady librarian—THUD!”

Psychiatrist: “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, if carefully and consistently implemented, could solve every human conflict if only—THUD!”

UFO Witness: “Look at that thing! What the “bleep” is that thing?” I’ve never bleeping seen a bleepity-bleep thing like that in my bleeping life, can you believe—THUD!”

Celebrate life’s little mundanities every once in a while. They’ll give you a break from all the excitement.

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