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.
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)