Calques are words or phrases whose meanings have been literally translated from one language into another, aka ‘loan translations.’ Words such as flea market, skyscraper, and translation itself all came into English this way. Today's episode looks at a number of words that have been calqued into English and out of English.
What is the ‘true’ meaning of the expression ‘to beg the question?’ Well, it depends on what you mean by true. Today, ‘to beg the question’ is often used as a synonym for ‘to raise the question,’ but historically, ‘to beg the question’ had a very different meaning. It involved neither ‘begging’ nor a ‘question,’ but rather, a philosophical fallacy of circular reasoning that traces back to Aristotle. Over the course of about two thousand years, a series of mistranslations and semantic corruptions have resulted in the phrase’s modern ‘misusage.’
The word ostracism can be traced back to Ancient Athens. For the Ancient Athenians, ostracism was not a sociological phenomenon, but an electoral vote that sought to protect the integrity of democracy. Today's episode provides a concise overview of Ancient Athenian society and looks at the details of the ancient ostracism vote.
The professional/amateur dichotomy portrays amateurs as inept and inexperienced, but amateurs haven’t always had a bad name. In fact, ‘amateur’ derived from the Latin word for ‘love.’ Today's episode explores the negative evolution of the word as a product of capitalist values.