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Birth of a nickname - John McWhorter


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Where do nicknames come from? Why are Ellens called Nellie and Edwards Ned? It’s all a big misunderstanding from the early days of the English language, a misunderstanding that even the word nickname itself derives from. John McWhorter tracks the accidental evolution of some familiar diminutives.

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Here's an excerpt from an opinion article written by John McWhorter: "Linguists insist that it’s wrong to designate any kind of English 'proper' because language always changes and always has. A common objection is that even so, all people must know which forms of language are acceptable in the public sphere, at the peril of unemployability or, at least, social handicap."
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  • Educator John McWhorter
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  • Narrator John McWhorter

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