This program is taking place remotely. If you have signed up, you will receive an email with details of how to access the program.
In these talks, linguist, lexicographer, and all-around word nut Ben Zimmer will delve into the stories behind particularly well-traveled words in our lexicon that have criss-crossed many different cultures over their wandering histories.
Each lecture will be structured as a whirlwind tour across many times and places. At the end of each etymological exploration, attendees will be left with a new appreciation of how the world can be encapsulated in a single word.
Tue, Mar 3: Seersucker
How did a word with Persian roots travel the globe to become the moniker for wash-and-wear suits at 20th century Ivy Leagues? Travel to various time periods when spices and fabrics were the world’s universal currency, massive empires battled for supremacy, and veterans returning from World War II made sure modern conveniences would be part of their future, and see how seersucker threaded it all together.
Thu, Apr 2: Orange
Which came first, the color orange or the fruit orange? It is among the first English-speaking words memorized by children, but it can also teach us a great deal about the cultural history of some of the world's great civilizations. Follow it as it winds through histories of a Holy Roman Emperor, a King of England, and even a New Jersey suburb.