Lessons on Language with the Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogerty)
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
5M ago
In this episode, Ray chats with Mignon Fogerty, aka the Grammar Girl. "Good grammar" may seem like the epitome of prescriptivism, but when it comes to her "Quick and Dirty Tips", Mignon leans on a more ideologically neutral approach. Might you even call "good grammar" ...  a style choice?  ..read more
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Episode 109: Trivia
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
1y ago
Trivia refers to obscure or useless information, but this definition is a far cry from the word's etymology. Trivia, or tri-via, literally means "three streets," and in Ancient Roman times, it referred to three-way intersections. These heavily trafficked intersections were places where common people would chat, trade, gossip, and bicker, and it is in this context that the seeds of our modern sense of the word were first sown.  You can sign up for the Lingoda Sprint Challenge here:  https://try.lingoda.com/WordsforGranted_Sprint ..read more
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African American English: Interview w/ Tracey Weldon
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
1y ago
In this episode, I speak with Tracey Weldon, linguist and board advisor on the Oxford Dictionary of African American English project. We discuss the origins of AAE, the role of code switching within its speech community, AAE's contributions to mainstream English, and more.  For $25 off your Lingoda Sprint Challenge enrollment, use this link: https://try.lingoda.com/Ray_Sprint ..read more
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Episode 108: Understand
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
2y ago
What does "standing under" have to do with "understanding?" Nothing at all, which is why most of us probably overlook the obvious fact that "understand" is actually a compound word comprising "under" and "stand." In our exploration of this confusing etymology, we look at some archaic meanings of the preposition "under" in addition to words with similar semantic constructions in other languages.  Today's episode is sponsored by Lingoda. To get 25% off your enrollment in the Lingoda Sprint Challenge, go to https://try.lingoda.com/Ray and use promo code WORDSFORGRANTED at check out.  ..read more
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Episode 107: World
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
2y ago
In Old English, the word "world", or weorold, did not refer to a place. It was a compound word comprising wer, meaing "man", and ald, meaning "age". "World" literally meant "the age of man", and in many of its earliest usages, it's more closely related to a man's "lifetime" or "lifespan" than the earth he inhabits. We also look at some unlikely cognates of "world", all of which share etymologies related to "manliness".  ..read more
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Deciphering Ancient Scripts: Interview with Silvia Ferrara
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
2y ago
Have you ever wondered how writing was invented - or, how many times it was invented? How many undeciphered scripts has the ancient world left us, and is there any hope in eventually deciphering them? In this interview with Silvia Ferrara, author of The Greatest Invention, we explore these questions and many more.  To buy Silvia's book, click here.  You can also support Words for Granted on Patreon ..read more
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Episode 106: Grotesque
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
2y ago
The etymology of "grotesque" is hiding in plain sight: "grotto-esque". Originally, the word was used to describe a style of ancient art that was discovered in underground grottos––or at least what appeared to be underground grottos. In the Renaissance, this style was emulated and innovated upon, influencing the evolution of the sense of "grotesque" familiar to us today.  ..read more
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Episode 105: Idiot
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
2y ago
In Ancient Greece, an "idiot", or idiotes, was a "private person", which meant someone who did not hold a political office. In this episode, we explore how the word's modern pejorative connotation emerged. We also look into the word's 19th and early 20th century association with the IQ test ..read more
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Episode 104: Genius
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
2y ago
Though people of extraordinary talents and intellect have always existed, the modern sense of "genius" didn't emerge until the relatively recent 18th century. In Ancient Rome, a "genius" was neither a person nor their brilliant works, but a mythological deity whose function within society evolved over the course of antiquity.  ..read more
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Episode 103: Run Amok
Words for Granted
by Ray Belli
2y ago
Most Malay loanwords in English describe the local flora, fauna, and food of Southeast Asia. "Amok", however, is different. Amok, which describes a violent killing spree, is ultimately a Malay word that entered European languages during the era of European colonial expansion. Did Europeans encounter something unique in Southeast Asia that prompted them to adapt this word?  ..read more
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