Podcasts & RSS Feeds
Most Active Stories
- Awkward: UAW official praises Democratic candidate for governor while the GOP incumbent listens
- If its name is any indication, this winter storm headed for Michigan could be really fierce
- Michigan Republican party fails to address Dave Agema's bigotry and hatred
- Ypsilanti family finds happiness in living off the land
- Michigan's student homelessness problem is growing
Arts & Culture
Sun February 3, 2013
Stand by your gooma
On this week's "That's What They Say," Michigan Radio's Rina Miller and English Professor Anne Curzan discuss how the misinterpretation of older words and their meanings led to the modern pronunciations and definitions of words such as "woodchuck" and "bridegroom."
"Linguists call that 'folk etymology,'" says Curzan. "Where speakers come up with an etymology on their own, and then what they think the etymology is affects the shape of the word."
One such example is the word "bridegroom."
"It was not always 'groom', it was actually in Old English a 'bridegoom', and 'goom', or 'gooma', was an Old English word for 'man.' So it was the 'bride's man,'" says Curzan.
Curzan also discusses the mystery of the origin of popular sayings, such as "the whole nine yards" and "rule of thumb."