This week I have a pretty cool resource for people interested in the history of words. Everyone knows that language changes over time. Honestly, when was the last time anyone referred to something as “totally tubular”? But what happens to languages over the course of hundreds or thousands of years? This is one of the main focuses in the study of linguistics, and as a historian, it is endlessly fascinating.
Having a sense of how languages have changed over time is also incredibly important. A minor change of words can completely change the context of a source. If I invite you for a stay in my cottage in the forest, it paints one picture in your mind. If I ask you to come to my cabin in the woods, it paints another. Another good example is the difference between a “booty call” and a “butt dial.” In one sense, they mean the same thing! But, because we understand the context and linguistic differences, the meaning changes.
Understanding the underlying meaning of words is so incredibly important when understanding history and current events. With all that in mind, my cool website this week is The Etymology Nerd! Much like how I explore the hidden side of history, The Etymology Nerd explores the hidden history of words.
The Etymology Nerd was created by Adam Aleksic, a junior at Harvard University. According to the website, he started The Etymology nerd as a way to help study linguistics. His website just ballooned from there. He does run an active blog where he explores certain words or sets of words. There are also cool infographics, an interactive map, and some really useful videos.
Even if you have no interest in linguistics, this site is just plain fun to play around on. I spent some time messing around on the interactive map rather than writing. Although to be fair, it did give me some great ideas for some upcoming posts… stay tuned!
Looking for some more hidden history? Check out the history of the mechanical pencil!