Mignon Fogarty has spent years helping others sort out the extremely peculiar grammar of the English language. But in the course of her research on how to navigate the weirdness of English, she learned the why of the weirdness of English.

Did you know that egregious once meant outstandingly good? Or that the sport badminton comes from an English manor with a love of peculiar sports? Or that many of the words in the Oxford Dictionary of English got there from the suggestions of a serial killer?

But the strangeness doesn’t stop there. In today’s interview Mignon tells us such stories as

  • The same person who came up with the rule that we shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition also said we shouldn’t refer to children as “who” because they aren’t rational beings
  • Noah Webster’s first failed dictionary went too far with spelling reform. He included “wimmen” for “women” and “tung” for “tongue” and everybody hated it.
  • The origin of certain phrases (run of the mill, beyond the pale, by the wayside)

RESOURCES FROM THIS EPISODE

Grammar Girl Podcast

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