Mashed Radish on Grammar Girl

Mashed Radish is taking the week off for the US holiday of Thanksgiving, though I may sprinkle in a little etymology here and there as time permits.

In the meantime, enjoy the latest episode of the award-winning educational podcast, Grammar Girl. Its host and creator, the incredible Mignon Fogarty, reads an article I wrote for Oxford Dictionaries on the many side words in the English language. The episode opens with the fascinating roots of bailiwick, to boot. 

Continue reading “Mashed Radish on Grammar Girl”

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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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the Allusionist podcast

Have you heard the Alllusionist? It’s a new podcast for Radiotopia from PRX presented and produced by the talented Helen Zaltzman. Every two weeks, she takes listeners on “etymological adventures” with intelligence, wit, and style, typically bringing great guests along. The podcast debuted in January, and since then, she’s explored everything from the origins and evolution of bra to the writing on museum exhibit walls. It’s fun, smart, and eclectic. And it’s always playful–true to the etymology of the podcast’s name, ultimately from the Latin lūdere“to play”–but never ludicrous.(Collusiondelude, elusiveillusioninterludeand prelude are all so derived as well.)

Each episode is usually about 15 minutes and you can subscribe like I did through iTunes (and through other providers). I really learned a lot from a recent episode on how spaces between words came about, featuring the brilliant Dr. Kate Wiles. One of my favorites is “Latin Lives!” It’s about a long-running news broadcast from Finland…in Latin. You can enjoy it right here:

Stay tuned to the Allusionist, and stayed posted for more word histories here later this 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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lexicon valley

I want to take a break for a moment from my own content to share with you some other content that entertains, edifies, and enriches me on a regular basis: Lexicon Valley, a blog and podcast on all things language published by Slate. Perhaps you already know about the enterprise, but if you don’t, I suggest you change that pronto.

The blog features engaging writing on truly eclectic, language-based topics by some of the best language writers working right now. On the blog, recent posts include:

These are writers I follow–and look up to–on Twitter (see below), and I suggest you do the same. The writers’ special genius, and in many ways Slate’s overarching genius, is their twofold inquisitiveness: They pose questions we’ve all wondered at one point or another or pose questions you’d never think to ask in the first place.

The podcast, featuring the cool-headed descriptivist Mike Vuolo and curious curmudgeon Bob Garfield (of NPR’s On the Media), deserves your immediate binge-listening. Recently, they’ve added the illustrious linguist and lexicographer (executive producer of Vocabulary.com and Visual Thesaurus, where he writes “Word Routes”; columnist for the Wall Street Journal; and go-to language commentator for just about any media worth engaging with) on a regular segment, “LinguaFile,” which focuses on the history of particular word. In so many ways, this is the Mashed Radish’s Platonic form, its Aristotelian actualization.

Some of my favorites include:

Listen to them. Listen to them all. The podcast is available on iTunes and SoundCloud, and I’m sure you can find it in other places. Their latest LinguaFile is on…well, I let you guess it. That’s part of the fun. But, I have to say with not a little pride, I feel I ‘beat’ these word nerd heroes to it in my post from about a year ago.

For more from all of the above, follow:

  • Gretchen McCulloch @GretchenAMcC
  • Arika Okrent @arikaokrent
  • James Harbeck @sesquiotic
  • Ben Yagoda @byagoda
  • Bob Garfield @Bobosphere
  • Ben Zimmer @bgzimmer
  • Lexicon Valley @lexiconvalley

We’ve got a lot of good word origins coming your way this fall. And perhaps some new textures, if we’re lucky.

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