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Episode Info: A few stolen minutes out of your day to talk words and communication. Let’s talk language tips for the curious or confused. Welcome to season 3. In our first two seasons, we talked about the language choices of Kurt Cobain, Judas Priest, and Destiny’s Child. We’ve talked about spelling hijacking and spelling revolutions of early America that didn’t quite catch steam. So sorry, Ben Franklin. What’s in store for this season? Oh, just you wait. The a British-Zimbabwean novelist Doris Lessing once said, “In the writing process, the more a thing cooks, the better.” It’s true, a story needs time. A writer needs time. But in so many of our efforts, time is an essential piece of the whole. It’s true for podcasts too, I suppose. But I’m happy to be back with you. Season 3, Episode 1: The History of “Mesmerize” & Looking for the “Mother Lode” (or “Mother Load”?) of English Language Tips Approximate transcript: The English language can be mesmerizing. In the hands of a talented wordsmith, you can be entranced. But, let’s start off with some word trivia. Do you know the origin of the word “mesmerize”? I love this story. Some words have their roots in other languages, but others have their roots in a good story that captured the public imagination. The history of “mesmerize,” my language-curious friends, is a case of the latter. Let me set the stage: Modern-day Vienna can indeed be mesmerizing, but the history of “mesmerize” goes deeper than you might guess in this city. Imagine eighteenth-century Vienna— its grand gardens and palaces, the elegance, grace, and symmetry of Mozart and Beethoven, and the imperial menagerie that would become today’s oldest continually operating zoo in the world. This Vienna was one of the most important political, artistic, and commercial capitals of the era. In this setting, enter Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer, a physician who proposed a theory of how human and animal bodies react to the gravitational pull of the planets. “Animal gravitation,” he called it. And as his research continued, moving more and more into the laws of earth’s magnetic forces, this theory shifted to “animal magnetism.” With his work in this area, Dr. Mesmer based his medical practice on the idea that imbalances of fluids inside people’s bodies could be cured by the manipulation of magnets outside of their bodies. Intriguing? Absolutely. At least that’s how many in eighteenth-century Vienna reacted, and Dr. Mesmer did quite well for himself using magnets and bringing his patients into an almost trance-like state during their treatments. Over time, though, Dr. Mesmer was declared a fraud and decreed as a fake scientist. He was forced to leave Vienna, moved to Paris, and then was quickly under suspicion there as well. But Dr. Mesmer’s work? It had been “mesmerizing,” as in it had held attention with captivation. It was transfixing, almost hypnotic, spellbinding, and captivating. This is the...
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