95 episodes

Words for Granted is a podcast that looks at how words change over time. Host Ray Belli uses linguistic evolution as a way of understanding larger historical and cultural changes.

Words for Granted - An etymology and linguistics podcast Ray Belli

    • Language Learning
    • 4.8 • 147 Ratings

Words for Granted is a podcast that looks at how words change over time. Host Ray Belli uses linguistic evolution as a way of understanding larger historical and cultural changes.

    Episode 90: Apple

    Episode 90: Apple

    In this episode, we explore the etymology of the most culturally ubiquitous fruit, the apple. Etymologically, the ubiquity of the apple is fitting, since it originally used to refer equally to "apples" as we know them and to "fruits" in general. We also explore the Latin and Greek words for "apple," the derivatives of which are hiding in plain sight in a handful of modern English fruit and vegetable words. 

    • 20 min
    Episode 89: Cheese

    Episode 89: Cheese

    In the episode, we explore the etymology of "cheese," a Latin-derived word that entered the Germanic languages through trade long before the emergence of English. We also consider why the Italian and French words for cheese, formaggio and fromage, are not its cognates and how the adjective "cheesy" (meaning something lacking subtlety) evolved. 

    • 16 min
    Episode 88: Egg

    Episode 88: Egg

    The word "egg" plays a part in one of the most famous anecdotes in the written record about the evolution of the English language. In this episode, we consider the implications of that story and the look into the etymology of "egg" and some of its cognates. (What's with the "egg" in the idiom "to egg on," you ask? Yeah, we cover that too.) 

    • 18 min
    Proto Indo-Europeans with Kevin Stroud of The History of English Podcast

    Proto Indo-Europeans with Kevin Stroud of The History of English Podcast

    This episode features a conversation I had with Kevin Stroud of the History of English Podcast at this year's virtual Intelligent Speech conference. We discussed reasons why the history of the Proto Indo-Europeans - the linguistic ancestors of nearly half the world's population - remains obscure to the general public. If you're thinking racist, pseudoscientific scholarship that led to the concept of the Aryan race during World War II might be to blame, we think so too. 

    For the video of our conversation, follow this link:

    https://www.crowdcast.io/e/intelligentspeech/40

    • 40 min
    Episode 87: Dead Ringer

    Episode 87: Dead Ringer

    The idiom "dead ringer" comes down to us from horse-racing slang, but a widely believed folk etymology links the idiom's origins to being buried alive. In this episode, we debunk the myths and get down to the written evidence behind the emergence of this phrase. 

    I'll be speaking with Kevin Stroud from the History of English podcast about the Proto Indo-Europeans at this year's Intelligent Speech Conference. To purchase tickets, follow this link. 

    • 14 min
    Episode 86: Red Herring

    Episode 86: Red Herring

    The idiom "red herring" is used to describe a distraction from the matter at hand. Literally, a "red herring" is a kipper––that is, a smoked and salted sliced fish––but why would such a fish become an expression for a distraction? In this episode, we debunk a popular myth surrounding the idiom's etymology by close reading a handful of selections from the written record and drawing on the most recent scholarship. 

    • 20 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
147 Ratings

147 Ratings

jrm36 ,

Excellent explanation of dead ringers

There’s no one else in podcasting who does this better

Myrtle Drive ,

No. Just no.

I wanted to listen to “begging the question”, but the incessant T-glottalization made it impossible. So purposely articulate, and then “Latin, written...”? It drives me nuts, I don’t get it.

Grayson Guyer ,

Good Podcst

I enjoy this podcast a lot.

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