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Panel Questions


BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Negin Farsad, Josh Gondelman and Jessi Klein. And here again is your host, a man who insists on staying 1.83 meters away, not 6 feet, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. In just a minute, Bill's favorite shirt is rhyme-clean only. It's our Listener Limerick Challenge. If you'd like to play, give us a call at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT - that's 1-888-924-8924.

Right now, panel, time for some more questions for you from the week's news. Josh, this week, a study by language researchers has identified a new category of English words - words that are what?

JOSH GONDELMAN: Like, super-swears.

SAGAL: (Laughter) No, I wish. We could use them. I'm sorry, but...


SAGAL: ...The swears we have are not adequate for this situation. Give me something...


SAGAL: ...Even more obscene.

GONDELMAN: It's a new world. We need a more powerful F-word.


SAGAL: Frankincense or something.


SAGAL: No, that's not it, though that's an excellent idea, and I want language researchers to immediately start working on that. You are allowed to ask for a hint.

GONDELMAN: Oh, can I have a hint, please?

SAGAL: Oh, you want a hint. (Elongating) OK.

GONDELMAN: You can elongate them.

SAGAL: Yes, you can stretch them. They're stretchable...


SAGAL: ...Words.


SAGAL: Researchers at the University of Vermont did an (elongating) extensive study of social media posts and discovered that some words, unlike others, are very stretchable. This is an echo of the discovery made years ago of stretchable pants by pants scholars.

JESSI KLEIN: Wait. This is a discovery about words?

SAGAL: Yeah. What...

NEGIN FARSAD: (Laughter).

SAGAL: What they did is they...

KLEIN: This isn't a discovery about words. That's just what words do.

SAGAL: Wait a minute.

KLEIN: I don't...

FARSAD: They figured it out by digging an archeological site.

SAGAL: Wait a minute.

KLEIN: Can I just say I feel furious right now?



KLEIN: Because these are just qualities of words.

SAGAL: Yeah.

KLEIN: It's just a word that's short with vowels is easier to stretch than a multiple-consonanted (ph) word.

SAGAL: Well, I mean, yeah.

KLEIN: It's just a fact about words.

GONDELMAN: Defund the police. Then defund this study.


SAGAL: Josh, Japan is reopening this week with some changes to keep people safe. One of the new guidelines for theme parks is that what be banned on roller coasters?

GONDELMAN: What be banned on roller coasters...

SAGAL: Yeah, can't do it anymore on the roller coaster just to keep everybody safe from disease transmission.

GONDELMAN: You can't open-mouth scream.

SAGAL: That's exactly right, Josh. You can't...


SAGAL: ...Scream on the roller coaster.


SAGAL: Japan's theme park association, which is a combination of two exciting words and one boring one, released their post-quarantine guidelines this week, including a ban on screaming while riding roller coasters because screaming spreads germs. To help with this, they're unveiling an exciting new ride called Sit Perfectly Still Mountain.

GONDELMAN: (Laughter).

KLEIN: I still scream on escalators...


GONDELMAN: You're - no, you're...

KLEIN: ...As I've always done, and I won't stop.

SAGAL: Do you throw up your hands? Do you throw up your hands so everybody can see?

KLEIN: I throw up every time.


GONDELMAN: You know, it feels like screaming on a roller coaster is scarier to do, but watching a roller coaster full of people sitting perfectly still staring straight ahead...


GONDELMAN: ...Is terrifying.

KLEIN: Yeah.

SAGAL: That's - and then, of course, the photo they get at the end of just everybody on the roller coaster just sitting there staring silently...

KLEIN: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...Quietly.

KLEIN: Well, because it would be very much the behavior of a dead person.

SAGAL: Yes, exactly.


KLEIN: And the idea of a roller coaster filled with the dead - seems like we're almost there.

SAGAL: Yeah, pretty much. That pretty much describes our world right now.

GONDELMAN: (Laughter).


KLEIN: That was, like, the original concept behind "Weekend At Bernie's."



KLEIN: My son is turning 5 next week, and he is starting to ask me about death. And - because he's, like, are you - he was, like, so wait - when you're dead, you can't move? And I said, no. And he said, so wait - he goes, so do people - so you just carry them around?


KLEIN: And then I really laughed so hard because he went right to "Weekend At Bernie's"...

SAGAL: It's...

KLEIN: ...Just naturally.

SAGAL: And what's interesting is that movie was written by Jonathan Silverman's 5-year-old son, so it all makes sense.


GONDELMAN: Sold it in the room.

KLEIN: Sold it - elevator - escalator pitch.

GONDELMAN: Escalator - slightly longer than an elevator pitch, doesn't go as far.


SAGAL: Negin, we all know that actual sounds can sneak into our dreams. Say, the alarm goes off, and in your dream, a church bell starts ringing. But new research shows that the brain does what while you're sleeping?

FARSAD: This is related to sounds?


FARSAD: The brain does, like, a bunch of, like, cool folio recordings...


FARSAD: ...While you're sleeping.

SAGAL: The brain's, like, look - I'm using coconuts to make horse's hooves.

FARSAD: (Laughter) Can I get a hint?

SAGAL: Well, it's like the guys are, like, we are not having another dripping faucet dream.

FARSAD: Your brain, like, is, like, battling with itself on, like, what sound effect is, like, reasonable for the scene.

SAGAL: Sort of. I'm going to give it to you. Your brain edits the sounds that it allows into your dreams.


SAGAL: So your brain has, basically, a sound engineer who's in charge of what you get to hear in your dream.

FARSAD: Can I put that in the category of that's also not a study - like, a remarkable finding?


FARSAD: Because my brain is doing all the mise en scene of these dreams.


GONDELMAN: A dream...

FARSAD: My brain is...

GONDELMAN: It's all brain, baby.

FARSAD: My brain is Wes Andersoning (ph) all of these dreams. What are you talking about, study? Of course.

KLEIN: I - do you guys know that I'm working on a study about how hair grows out of your head?


KLEIN: It's going to really blow your minds.

GONDELMAN: I dispute the findings of that study. My paper - peer-reviewed - says hair grows out of your back.


GONDELMAN: Peer-reviewed by my wife.

KLEIN: That word study is fully wife - like, barely even wife-reviewed.


GONDELMAN: No way that's wife-reviewed. If I say to my wife, that study was, like, some words are long sometimes...


GONDELMAN: Like, here's the results of a study. I don't love you anymore.


SAGAL: Four out of 5 dentists agree - get out of here.


GONDELMAN: You asked all your dentists for this?


GONDELMAN: This is private.

KLEIN: Here's a sound to edit out. I don't want to be married to you anymore.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALT-J SONG, "SOMETHING GOOD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.