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Interesting and Esoteric Words of the Slate Podcast Literati: March 30, 2011

As I noted last post, due to some career changes and other things, I’ve been unable to keep up with Slate podcasts as much as in the past (mainly because my commute has largely disappeared). So I’m listening to fewer podcasts but Slate’s Culture Gabfest is still just about my favorite one so I still listen almost every week. I’ve just fallen behind in blogging their, as Metcalf calls them, “SAT words” (BTW one thing that annoys me is–usually yankees–who call that test “the SATs”, plural, instead of “the SAT”).

In the most recent episode, which I listened to today, I noted two words that I was thinking about blogging about–not because they were SAT words but because, it seemed to me, the hosts mispronounced them. The first was “presages,” used by Dana, and pronounced “pree-sayj”, I think. I always thought it was “pres-ij,” and this is the favored pronunciation in the dictionary, though “pri-seyj,” which is close to Dana’s, seems to be an alternate.

Then later in the show, Metcalf mispronounced “desuetude” as “de-SOO-eh-tude” (it should be “deh-SWAY-eh-tude,” as Julia rightly notes). I think I already knew desuetude from its legal usages, and vaguely recall it has an international law usage as well; and I am pretty sure I remember my law professor in London, Rosalyn Higgins (later judge at the International Court of Justice), pronouncing it the proper way.

Anyway, right after Julia corrected Steve, Dana said “here comes the Gray Croissant.” So now I feel self-conscious, but I promise I was gonna blog it before they said that! I thought it was funny Dana joined in the chorus about this response to Steve’s mangling of desuetude, when I had already noted her “presages” use. Heh.

(Here I keep a running collection of the terms from this series of posts.)

  • desuetude [SM, CG03-30-11] (mispronounced)
  • presages [DS, CG03-30-11] (possibly mispronounced)
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