Question: In speech, we often use "uh," "um" or some other sound to fill in a thought gap as we look for the next words. Do these sounds have a name? — K.D.L., Peoria, Illinois
Answer: There is a name for just about everything; these gap-filling sounds are no different. They are called "speech disfluencies." We use these breaks in regular speech to fill a gap as we collect our thoughts or restructure the sentence we were about to use.
Q: Something we all say is "I'll be there in a moment." How long is a moment? — F.N., Owensboro, Kentucky
A: The first known reference to a moment was made by Bede, also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede, in the eighth century. In the Middle Ages, a "moment" was equivalent to 90 seconds, or 1/40 of an hour. Today, a moment is an ambiguous term meaning a short span of time.
LET'S LEARN ENGLISH: In the U.K., they shop at a "hypermarket," while in America, we say "superstore," combining "supermarket" and "department store."
Q: I received an email with a video of the most beautiful horse I have ever seen. It was coal black, with a mane maybe 3 feet long. It appeared to be a miniature draft horse with a strong build, but it was agile. Can you tell me what kind of horse this is? — W.K., Odessa, Texas
A: It sounds like a Friesian to me. The horses were first bred in Friesland, Netherlands. Though they are large, they are quite nimble and agile. At one time they were used as warhorses because they were able to carry a knight in full armor. The breed almost became extinct by the Late Middle Ages when the demand for warhorses diminished and the need for larger draft horses increased.
If you have access to a computer, go to YouTube and search "Friesian." There are many videos of this magnificent horse.
DID YOU KNOW? Actor Edward Norton turned down the role of Pvt. Ryan in "Saving Private Ryan" (1998). The role went to Matt Damon.
Q: I was surprised when I read that Mario Andretti drove in NASCAR. How many races did he win? How many years did he participate in NASCAR? — I.K., Port Huron, Michigan
A: Mario Andretti drove in 14 races over four years starting in 1966. He won only one race, but it was the most prestigious in NASCAR — the 1967 Daytona 500.
Q: The word "nilbog" keeps coming to mind. I looked it up and came up with nothing. It may have been from a movie, but I have no idea. Can you shine any light on this black hole in my mind? — J.H., Chipley, Florida
A: I'm not sure how you could possibly forget the 1990 horror movie "Troll 2." The plot is about the Waits, a suburban family who vacations in Nilbog (which is "goblin" spelled backward). The Waits are pursued by vegetarian goblins who want to transform them into plants so that they can eat them. The film was originally going to be titled "Goblins," but it was renamed "Troll 2" to market it as a sequel to "Troll." However, there is no connection between the two films. As a matter of fact, there are no actual trolls in the movie "Troll 2."
Sometimes, when a film is so bad, it achieves cult status, which is what happened to "Troll 2."
Q: I have seen Marie Osmond on a regular basis hawking Nutrisystem weight-loss meals. She looks fantastic. How long has she been a Nutrisystem spokesperson? Has she had plastic surgery? How many times has she been married? — T.M., Florence, Ohio
A: Olive Marie Osmond was born Oct. 13, 1959. She has been married three times to two different men. In 2013, she became a spokesperson for Nutrisystem, and the same year she joined Wise Foods, a line of emergency food storage solutions. It has been rumored that she has undergone several plastic surgery procedures, but nothing has been confirmed.
Q: After the movie "The Wizard of Oz," whatever happened to the actress who played the Wicked Witch? — D.N.L., Prescott, Arizona
A: Margaret Hamilton played The Wicked Witch of the West in the iconic film; she was born Dec. 9, 1902, and passed at 82 after having a heart attack. She appeared in 25 films before getting the role of the Wicked Witch. After melting, she appeared in more 50 movies through the mid-1970s. She was also a regular on radio and stage productions.
YOU LIVE WHERE? Accident, Maryland. According to the 2010 census, 325 residents call Accident home. A person from Accident is called an "Accidental."
Q: For years I have been reading the phrase, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." It is supposedly a quote penned by Benjamin Franklin. Did he really say this? — O.B.K., Portland, Maine
A: No, there is no proof that Benjamin Franklin ever wrote or said the quote. He did write, "Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that Goes loves us, and loves to see us happy." The first quote does make better reading, though, doesn't it?
Q: I watched an episode of an old Western in which Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) came to town. He was rude and downright miserable. It was later revealed that he had a son who died and he blamed himself for the young boy's death. Is there any truth to the story line?
A: It's true. Langdon Clemens was the first-born child and only son born to Sam and Olivia Clemens. He was born prematurely, on Nov. 7, 1870; he continued to be weak and sickly though out his short life. In April of 1871, while riding with his father in a carriage, Langdon caught a cold which developed into diphtheria. He died June 2, 1872; he was only 19 months old. Samuel Clemens blamed himself for the child's illness and rarely spoke of his son's death.
Q: During the early 1970s I was a regular watcher of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." I always got a kick out of Arte Johnson and his "Verrry interesting" line. Was there a second part to this phrase? Is he still alive? — S.E.B., Shenandoah, Pennsylvania
A: "Laugh-In" ran for 140 episodes, from January 1968 until March 1973. Arthur Stanton Eric "Arte" Johnson was a regular on the show. He is best remembered being dressed as a smoking German soldier named Wolfgang who used the catchphrase "Verrry interesting," sometimes followed by "but stupid" or "but not very funny."
Johnson lives in Southern California with his wife, Gisela; the couple married in 1968.
— Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.