100 hundred fun facts about language from the Allusionist Podcast

This is the Allusionist, in which I, Helen Zaltzman, have talked about language and why and how we use it for 100 episodes! Today there’ll be a celebratory parade of language-related facts that you’ve learned from the Allusionist and I’ve learned from making the Allusionist, so some old facts, some new facts – well, the new facts aren’t recently invented facts, they are established facts, just making their Allusionist debut.

Source: Allusionist 100. The Hundredth – transcript — The Allusionist

What a fun list. Here are a couple of my favorites:

  • ‘Girl’ could originally be used to refer to a child of any gender – it didn’t specifically denote a female child until the late 14th century.
  • Not an indefinite hyperbolic number: twelfty. That’s a synonym for the old hundred, the long hundred, which was six score or 120. That’s right, the word hundred used to mean 120.
  • 700 years ago, ‘nice’ meant ‘stupid’ or ignorant. There’s nothing stupid about being nice, people!
  • Imagineer: a portmanteau of imagination and engineer, to mean someone who devises imaginative new technologies or concepts, such as the attractions at a Disney park – Disney did not coin the word, but they sure did trademark it.

What a cool sounding podcast. I’ve added it to my player.

(There are a couple of entries on the list for a word that is very inappropriate in all situations, so you will probably not want to share the list with students verbatim)

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