Nov 23, 2021
From time to time, I like to do a puzzle that's brief. I mean, you know, not one of these verbose puzzles that require lengthy explanations and dissertations. Sometimes I like to just keep it simple.
Now this one is a two-part puzzler and it has to do with the English language.
Part 1. I was listening to the radio the other day, and as luck would have it, I was listening to the BBC. And they keep mispronouncing this word and I thought I'd set the record straight.
There's the stuff that beer cans and the like are made out of in this country, which the English consistently call al-u-mini-um. Yeah. And of course, as everyone knows, we call them tin cans. Or we call them beer cans or aluminum cans.
So Why do they call them al-u-mini-um cans? Or why do they refer to that metal as al-u-mini-um?
So the first part has to do with that material, why do they mispronounce it?
And now for the highly technical, automotive part of the puzzle, part B:
What does STP stand for? We're betting there are three people in the whole planet that know this!
Remember last week's puzzler? I was listening to the BBC and I noticed that the British pronounce the word aluminum as al-u-min-i-um.
And then I asked myself, "Who, pray, told you they mispronounce this word?" and then I thought maybe they aren't mispronouncing it. Maybe we mispronounce it, at least in their view.
So I went and I looked at my Funk & Wagnall's dictionary. I actually tried to get Paul Murky of Murky research to look in this but he was busy doing some upholstery.
So I looked it up. And it turns out that we spell it aluminum with no "i-u-m."
But the reason they say "al-u-mini-um" is that that was the original spelling that in fact we used to use in this country up until 1925. It was spelled "aluminium". But those tin men couldn't sell aluminium siding. So they changed the word.
Now here's Part B: What does STP stand for?
My brother actually got this one right away, through the intervention of divine luck, and it's "Scientifically Treated Petroleum".
Even if your old car doesn't start, it can start conversations that will help all of us learn more about the world. Donate your old car to your favorite NPR station. Here's how.