Why do we say “second” and not “twoth”?

Thanks in large part to the impassioned activism of the #NeverAgain movement, the news hasn’t moved on from the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, as it has too often in recent massacres in the US. The pressure is staying on gun control, keeping the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in the hot seat.

The Second Amendment is also in this post’s etymological hot seat. I’m not debating its constitutional interpretation, though. I’m debating why we say second and not twoth.   

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The second hand is really the third hand on a clock, which has no first hand. (Pixabay

Continue reading “Why do we say “second” and not “twoth”?”

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Some etymological news and updates from Mashed Radish

In lieu of a feature word origin today, I wanted to point you to some of my other etymological goings-on around the web. I’m very pleased to announce that I have two new series on the Oxford Dictionaries blog debuting this week.

Continue reading “Some etymological news and updates from Mashed Radish”

A few quick updates

First, a big thanks to everyone who has taken the Mashed Radish reader survey so far. I’ve received some incredibly valuable feedback so far. If you haven’t had a chance to complete it yet, please take just 5 minutes to do so. Your responses make a difference and mean a lot to me. You can find the survey here. In another week, I’ll be contacting the randomly selected winner who will get to pick the word for an upcoming post.

Second, a writing update. Earlier this month, I wrote a piece for Atlas Obscura about a mysterious statuette perched on many windowsills in Dublin, Ireland. If you’re not familiar with Atlas Obscura, check them out. A leading travel and exploration website, Atlas Obscura is “the definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places.” In some ways, the site is like the travel equivalent of etymology, seeking out all the unusual and unexpected places, people, objects, and stories off the beaten track and hiding right around the corner. Their wide-ranging content takes a linguistic bent, too. Writer Dan Nosowitz has looked into some fascinating place-based language phenomena, like “Why Do Canadians Say ‘Eh’?” and “How a Fake British Accent Took Old Hollywood By Storm.”

Third, don’t forget to stop by Mental Floss, where I continue to contribute etymological trivia. Did you know rather originally meant “more rathe,” with rathe being a now-rare word meaning “quick” or “eager”? Or consider compute, which first meant “to prune back” in Latin. Swing by Nameberry, too, where I recently dove into the history of the name Oscar

Finally, I was delighted to guest-host another episode of the Shakespeare-on-film  podcast As We Like It. This time, we talked about Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 production of Hamlet. Our conversation was nearly – nearly – as epic as his film.

More etymology is coming your way, as always, on Friday.

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More from Mashed Radish

Mashed Radish is off this week, enjoying some craic with family in town. I have been terribly remiss, though, in linking you to my other writing online.

Since the spring, I’ve been writing weekly on Slate about various language topics. Some recent pieces have included: How 80s Is the Slang in Stranger Things? and Branger. Debression. Oexit. Zumxit. Why Did Brexit Trigger a Brexplosion of Wordplay? Click here for much more.

I’ve also been writing for Mental Floss. You’ll get a big etymological fix on the likes of such pieces as The Origins of 19 ‘Skin’ Expressions. Click here for more.

If you’re new to the blog, you may not know that I’m also reading the complete works of William Shakespeare this year and writing about it. Check it out at Shakespeare Confidential.

And those who are familiar with this blog will know I contribute to Oxford Dictionaries and Strong Language, where I’ve had many pieces since I’ve last shared my writing there.

Mashed Radish will be back next week.

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language (for your ears)

“Headphones.” Doodle by me.

Language and linguistics used up some great bandwidth this past week. Check out these podcasts for some excellent listens for your weekend:

  • What do Huckleberry Hound, decals, and Yiddish have in common? Ben Zimmer makes the cockamamie connection on the latest episode of Slate’s Lexicon Valley:
  • Linguist Arika Okrent, whose work you may have read in Mental Floss, answers questions about questions on the newest Freakonomics podcast

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