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I like words. I like the way they sound, I like their subtle shades of meaning, their power, and most particularly, their ancient roots, their origins. For example, I recently became fascinated with the rather routine word 'miscellaneous.' To begin with, it really sounds great. Miscellaneous. I dare you to say it out loud and not smile. Plus, you can just forget its meaning and have fun with it. "Miscellaneous, miss a lot." Then consider its long journey from the Latin 'miscere' (to mix), to its current form. How did miscere become miscellaneous? Whose idea was it to drop the 'ere' and add the 'ellaneous?' And why? Were they drunk? Was it some sort of strange speech impediment that caught on with the general populace? Or more likely, did the French get hold of it and decide to do what they do best - unnecessarily fancy it up? Makes you think, right? And speaking of the paths words take to arrive at their current form, how can anyone not be entranced by the rocky road traveled by the old Germanic word ' f i c k e n ' (to move back and forth)? Was it first used in carpentry? "Grab the other end of this saw and we'll ficken it across this log." Or is it the Teutonic ancestor of 'fickle'? "First you say we should sack Rome, then you say we shouldn't. Boy, you are one ficken barbarian." Of course, it could very well be the root of another word that describes a back and forth motion, but if that were the case, this vanity card would probably be censored.

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1st Aired: 26 April 2012