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Episode 53: They

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

Release Date: 08/20/2018

Episode 88: Egg show art Episode 88: Egg

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

The word "egg" plays a part in one of the most famous anecdotes in the written record about the evolution of the English language. In this episode, we consider the implications of that story and the look into the etymology of "egg" and some of its cognates. (What's with the "egg" in the idiom "to egg on," you ask? Yeah, we cover that too.) 

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Proto Indo-Europeans with Kevin Stroud of The History of English Podcast show art Proto Indo-Europeans with Kevin Stroud of The History of English Podcast

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

This episode features a conversation I had with Kevin Stroud of the History of English Podcast at this year's virtual Intelligent Speech conference. We discussed reasons why the history of the Proto Indo-Europeans - the linguistic ancestors of nearly half the world's population - remains obscure to the general public. If you're thinking racist, pseudoscientific scholarship that led to the concept of the Aryan race during World War II might be to blame, we think so too.  For the video of our conversation, follow this link:

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Episode 87: Dead Ringer show art Episode 87: Dead Ringer

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

The idiom "dead ringer" comes down to us from horse-racing slang, but a widely believed folk etymology links the idiom's origins to being buried alive. In this episode, we debunk the myths and get down to the written evidence behind the emergence of this phrase.  I'll be speaking with Kevin Stroud from the History of English podcast about the Proto Indo-Europeans at this year's Intelligent Speech Conference. To purchase tickets, follow this . 

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Episode 86: Red Herring show art Episode 86: Red Herring

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

The idiom "red herring" is used to describe a distraction from the matter at hand. Literally, a "red herring" is a kipper––that is, a smoked and salted sliced fish––but why would such a fish become an expression for a distraction? In this episode, we debunk a popular myth surrounding the idiom's etymology by close reading a handful of selections from the written record and drawing on the most recent scholarship. 

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Episode 85: The Proof Is in the Pudding show art Episode 85: The Proof Is in the Pudding

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

Of all places, why do we put the "proof" in the "pudding?" Like many idioms whose origins date back several centuries, the connection between the literal and figurative meanings of "the proof is in the pudding" is no longer clear in Modern English. "The proof is in the pudding" is actually a shortened corruption of the idiom "the proof of the pudding is in the eating," but that's still not the full story; in the 17th century when the idiom was first used, both "proof" and "pudding" had different meanings than they do today.  Listen to Words for Granted on , a new app that curates and...

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Interview with Simon Horobin, Author of Interview with Simon Horobin, Author of "Bagels, Bumf, and Buses"

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

In today's episode, I talk with Simon Horobin, Oxford professor and author of "Bagels, Bumf and Buses: A Day in the Life of the English Language," a book that explores the etymology of common words we encounter every day. In addition to discussing Simon's latest book, we discuss a range of language topics including the standardization of grammar, the history of spelling, and more. You can purchase "Bagels, Bumf, and Buses" . Click 25% off your first order with Literati. Listen to Words for Granted on , a curated podcast app featuring educational podcasts.

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Episode 84: Break a Leg show art Episode 84: Break a Leg

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

The etymology of "break a leg" is disputed, but some theories hold up better than others. In today's episode, we look at a handful of plausible explanations for how "break a leg" became theater slang for "good luck" and also bust a few etymological myths surrounding the idiom.  Today's episode is brought to you by Yabla. Click for your risk-free 15-day trial. 

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Episode 83: Apple of the Eye show art Episode 83: Apple of the Eye

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

As we all know, the idiomatic meaning of "apple of the eye" has nothing to do with apples. As it turns out, the origins of the idiom also have nothing to do with apples. In this episode, we look at how the English translation of an old Hebrew expression found in the Old Testament unintentionally defined our modern sense of the idiom "apple of the eye." 

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Episode 82: In a Pickle show art Episode 82: In a Pickle

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

"In a pickle" is one of the oddest sounding idioms in English. It means "in a predicament or bad situation," but it's not clear what pickles have to do with anything. In this episode, we look at the origins of both the phrase and the word "pickle" itself. 

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Episode 81: Idioms (General Overview) show art Episode 81: Idioms (General Overview)

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

This episode begins a new series on the etymology of English idioms. In this general overview of idioms, we discuss why idioms are syntactically and semantically peculiar, how idioms emerge, how idioms fossilize archaic grammar, and more.  Today's episode is brought to you by Yabla. To try Yabla 15-day free trial of Yabla, click .

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More Episodes

The pronoun "they" was borrowed into English from Old Norse. It's an odd borrowing because within a given language, the words for pronouns tend to remain consistent over time. In today's episode, we explore the entire history of "they," from its roots as Proto-Germanic demonstrative adjective to its modern usage as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun in English.