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Episode Info: No matter how you’re using your words, in emails or essays, poetry or presentations, you’ve got to start somewhere. Maxwell Perkins, the book editor best known for the writers he discovered including Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, once said, “Just get it down on paper, and then we’ll see what to do about it.” No matter what you’re writing or planning to say, it’s true, isn’t it? Just get it down. Just spit it out. Nothing can be carved into a masterpiece if you don’t even have the lump of clay to work with. Being an English language and grammar pro isn’t a matter of what degrees you’ve earned or what witty pun you might have on your coffee mug. Oh, yes, I’m talking to you with your, “The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense” mug. Sure, I love it. Looking to comfort a word-lover? “There, their, they’re.” (Okay, that one makes much more sense if you could see the different spellings). But witty mug in hand or not, let’s keep working on our words, and let’s keep amusing ourselves and discovering their fascinating roots along the way. Season 3, Episode 2: “Bragging rights” (or “rites”)? “Rites (or “rights”) of passage”? And what’s the story about “braggadocio”? Approximate transcript: Are grammar skills a rite/right of passage? Perhaps. Should you have bragging rights/rites about it? You’re better than that, aren’t you folks? My biggest question here though is how do you spell those “rights” and “rites”? “Rite” or “right” of passage? Bragging “rights” or “rites”? You think on that, and I’ll come back to it. First, let’s get a bit language nostalgic and take a walk down word memory lane. I recently stumbled on an amazing resource from the American Dialect Society that recorded most popular words of the year—words and phrases that filled American pop culture, words most likely to succeed, words that were the most unnecessary, and more—for every year between 1990 and 2018. Some of the highlights I have to share. In 1991, the word (or should I say set-up phrase?) of the year was “mother of all.” As in the mother of all writing tips, which I just said in last week’s “Mother Load/Lode” podcast. That gave me a smile. Though, then again, 1991’s most rapidly growing phrase was “in your face,” so there’s that. 1997’s Word of the Year was “millennium bug,” also known as “the Y2K bug.” 1998’s Word of the Year wasn’t a word or a phrase but a prefix, specifically “e-“ for adding “electronic” onto existing words like “e-mail” and “e-commerce.” Wild stuff. And of course, we’ve dropped the hyphen in those words over time. 2000’s Word of the Year was “chad,” but before you start getting heated over politics, let me cheer you up with the same year’s “Most Likely to Succeed Word”: “muggle.” 2005’s Word of the Year was “truthiness,” credited to Ste...
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