Stan Carey writes:

Mysteries of Vernacular is a fun and admirable project from Myriapod Productions comprising short animated films about etymology. Each film sketches the history of a word in the form of a story lasting a couple of minutes.

There are to be 26 in total, one for each letter of the alphabet…

As I wrote in Stan’s thread, “Very nice videos, and the etymology of hearse is amazing — if I once knew it, I’d forgotten. I do find very annoying, however, the narrator’s insistence on anglicizing all the foreign words he reads.” Watch the film to find out how the Oscan hirpus ‘wolf’ became our word for a vehicle for carrying a body!

Update (June 2023). The original Myriapod link was dead, so I substituted a TedEd one that works.


  1. “/klu/ was just as frequently spelled /klu/.”?? The voicer seems to have approached his task without any attention to ther meaning of the text at all, let alone any ability to pronounce foreign words.

  2. Also, ‘The Venetian trader’s costume was distinguished by the particular cut of his trousers, which the French began to call pantaloons.’ (Pants)

  3. Yes, I wish they’d gotten a different person to read the text, because otherwise they’re very nicely done.

  4. Ahoy, Hat. For your entertainment. Is it spot on?

  5. The link is to “Britishisms and the Britishisation of American English,” by Cordelia Hebblethwaite, and yes, it’s surprisingly well done for a news piece about language (especially from BBC News). I may have to post it.

  6. “Cordelia Hebblethwaite”: what a wonderful name.

  7. Hebblethwaite appears to be a Yorkshire name; this site says: “Brewer’s Dictionary of Names suggests that the surname Hebblethwaite is derived from the place so called near Sedbergh in Cumbria, England (see below). A thwaite, (from the Old Norse thveit), is a clearing or meadow, and the prefix, hebble, is a dialect term for a type of plank bridge.”

  8. what a wonderful name
    almost as wonderful as Morwen Thistlethwaite

  9. Danish placenames in Britain include ones ending in thwaite, thorpe and by/bie. Hebblethwaite I had heard of – it’s the conjunction with Cordelia that tickled my fancy.
    It’s so much better than Cleopatra Grimsdyke.

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