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Birth of a nickname - John McWhorter

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TEDEd Animation

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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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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator John McWhorter
  • Animator Lippy
  • Narrator John McWhorter

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