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Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast

Words for Granted is a podcast that looks at how words change over time. Host Ray Belli uses etymology as a way of examining broader changes in history, culture, religion, and more.
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Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast
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Now displaying: Page 5
Oct 8, 2016

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.

Sep 7, 2016

In today's episode, we look at the etymology of mouse, but really, it's a springboard into a far more complicated topic: the word "mice," its irregular plural form. Why do we say "mice" and not "mouses" when referring to more than one mouse? The answer lies in the grammar of an ancient tongue that predates modern English by thousands of years. This is the most linguistic-heavy episode of Words for Granted yet, so first-time listeners, beware!

Aug 26, 2016

The English language uses the word ‘cell’ in a handful of contexts. We have prison cells, brain cells, battery cells, and of course, cell phones. At first glance, these various uses of the word ‘cell’ seem unrelated, yet they’re all etymologically connected and can be traced back to a single source: medieval monasteries. In today's episode, we explore the unlikely historical relationship between the living quarters of Medieval Christian monks and the modern technology behind the cellular phone. 

Aug 14, 2016
Today's episode begins a short mini-series that explores the origins of technology-themed words. Although digital technology didn't permeate our culture until the twentieth century, the word ‘digital’ has ancient roots. Originally, it simply referred to … our fingers and toes!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aug 5, 2016

The word ‘comfort’ once described the spiritual consolation given by God to an individual. Today, it describes commercialized products like air conditioners, tennis shoes, and sofas. A pretty drastic change, to say the least. How did this evolution take place? Today's episode looks at the impact of capitalism and consumerism on our ideas about what ‘comfort’ is. 

Jul 23, 2016

The word ‘meat’ once referred to all forms of solid food, not just animal flesh. In today's episode, we explore the ambiguities of the word ‘meat’ as it appears in the King James Bible. We also debunk a popular myth surrounding meat words such as pork, beef, and veal.

Jul 8, 2016

This episode explores polysemy, the phenomenon by which a single word can have multiple meanings. Why do we use the word ‘foot’ in the compound word ‘footnote?’ Why does the word ‘decimation’ derive from the Latin word for ‘ten?’ Will books eventually become extinct? We answer all of these questions and more, all through the lens of polysemy. 

Jun 26, 2016

Today's episode looks at the Old English sense of the word wyrd. Originally, it wasn’t an adjective, but a noun that’s commonly translated into Modern English as ‘fate.’ However, this oversimplified translation doesn't tell the word's full story. By comparing and contrasting etymological and cultural evidence, it’s clear that wyrd and "fate" are really not the same thing at all. 

Jun 10, 2016

‘Nice’ has gone through more changes than almost any other word in the English language. Over the course of seven centuries, it has been used to mean stupid, promiscuous, elegant, and effeminate, among a handful of other things. In this episode, we try to make sense of its perplexing evolution.

Jun 10, 2016

Welcome to Words for Granted! In this debut episode, we'll be looking at how villanus, the Latin word for ‘farmworker,’ became the Modern English word ‘villain.’ From Medieval England farmworkers to comic book antagonists, the meaning of ‘villain’ has changed drastically over time. 

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