DiscoverGrammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better WritingFrom 'dog' to 'hot dog.' The 'audience of one' trick. More on the long S. Footbridge.
From 'dog' to 'hot dog.' The 'audience of one' trick. More on the long S. Footbridge.

From 'dog' to 'hot dog.' The 'audience of one' trick. More on the long S. Footbridge.

Update: 2024-06-041
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This episode delves into the fascinating history of the word "dog" and its multifaceted meanings. The episode begins by tracing the word's origins, highlighting its uncertain etymology and its potential connection to the German word "dox" meaning "dark." The episode then explores how the word "dog" has evolved over time, shifting from a term for a specific breed of dog to a general term for all canines. The episode also examines how the word has been used metaphorically to describe people, particularly those with negative traits associated with dogs, such as aggression or mischievousness. The episode further explores the word's connection to food, specifically the term "hot dog," which is believed to have originated from college slang and a misconception about the ingredients used in college cafeterias. The episode also discusses the use of "dog" as a slang term for feet, which is thought to have originated from rhyming slang. Finally, the episode explores the phrase "hair of the dog," which is a hangover cure and has its roots in a 16th-century belief about rabies. The episode concludes with a discussion of the "audience of one" concept in writing and communication, emphasizing the importance of tailoring your message to a specific individual to create a more engaging and effective experience. The episode also highlights the power of using the word "you" in writing and communication, citing studies that show its effectiveness in increasing engagement and viewership. The episode concludes with a discussion of listener feedback, including comments about the medial S and the origins of the fast food chain RB's.

Outlines

00:00:00
The Evolution of "Dog"

This Chapter explores the history of the word "dog" and its various meanings. It discusses the word's uncertain etymology, its potential connection to the German word "dox" meaning "dark," and its evolution from a term for a specific breed of dog to a general term for all canines. The chapter also examines how the word has been used metaphorically to describe people, particularly those with negative traits associated with dogs, such as aggression or mischievousness.

00:00:27
The Word "Dog" and Food

This Chapter explores the connection between the word "dog" and food, specifically the term "hot dog." It discusses the origin of the term, which is believed to have originated from college slang and a misconception about the ingredients used in college cafeterias. The chapter also discusses the use of "dog" as a slang term for feet, which is thought to have originated from rhyming slang.

00:05:45
The "Audience of One" Concept

This Chapter introduces the "audience of one" concept in writing and communication. It emphasizes the importance of tailoring your message to a specific individual to create a more engaging and effective experience. The chapter also highlights the power of using the word "you" in writing and communication, citing studies that show its effectiveness in increasing engagement and viewership.

00:13:07
Listener Feedback

This Chapter discusses listener feedback, including comments about the medial S and the origins of the fast food chain RB's. It also includes a family act story about a footbridge.

Keywords

dog
The word "dog" has a rich history and has evolved over time to encompass various meanings. It can refer to a canine animal, a specific breed of dog, a person with negative traits associated with dogs, a type of sausage, and a slang term for feet. The word's evolution reflects the dynamic nature of language and its ability to adapt to changing social and cultural contexts.

etymology
Etymology is the study of the origin and historical development of words. It involves tracing the origins of words, their changes in meaning, and their relationships to other words. Etymology helps us understand the evolution of language and the cultural influences that have shaped it.

hot dog
A hot dog is a type of sausage served in a long, soft roll. The term "hot dog" is believed to have originated from college slang in the late 1800s. The origin of the term is linked to a misconception about the ingredients used in college cafeterias, which were often believed to contain dog meat. The term "hot dog" has become a popular and widely recognized food item.

audience of one
The "audience of one" concept in writing and communication emphasizes the importance of tailoring your message to a specific individual. It involves imagining a single person who will be reading or listening to your content and crafting your message to resonate with that individual. This approach helps to create a more engaging and effective communication experience.

plain language
Plain language is a style of writing that aims to make information clear, concise, and easy to understand. It involves using simple language, avoiding jargon, and organizing information in a logical and accessible way. Plain language is often used in government documents, legal documents, and other materials that need to be understood by a wide audience.

medial S
The medial S, also known as the long S, is a form of the letter S that was commonly used in English writing before the 18th century. It was a lowercase letter that resembled a lowercase f. The medial S was used in the middle of words, while a different form of the letter S was used at the end of words. The medial S has largely disappeared from English writing, but it can still be found in some historical documents and in some languages, such as German.

RB's
RB's is a fast food chain that specializes in roast beef sandwiches. The name RB's is an acronym for the Raffle brothers, Forest and Leroy Raffle, who founded the company. The name is often mistakenly believed to stand for "Roast Beef." The company's name and its association with roast beef sandwiches have become a popular and widely recognized part of American fast food culture.

family act
A family act is a word or phrase that is used only within a specific family or group of friends. It is a term that is unique to that particular group and is not commonly understood by others. Family acts often develop over time as a result of shared experiences, inside jokes, or personal preferences.

Q&A

  • What is the etymology of the word "dog"?

    The etymology of the word "dog" is uncertain. It is believed to have originated from the Old English word "doja" and may be related to the German word "dox" meaning "dark." The word's origins are a bit of a linguistic mystery, as there are no clear traces of it in any ancestor language.

  • How has the meaning of the word "dog" evolved over time?

    The meaning of the word "dog" has evolved over time, shifting from a term for a specific breed of dog to a general term for all canines. It has also been used metaphorically to describe people, particularly those with negative traits associated with dogs, such as aggression or mischievousness. The word's connection to food, specifically the term "hot dog," is also a result of its evolution.

  • What is the "audience of one" concept in writing and communication?

    The "audience of one" concept in writing and communication emphasizes the importance of tailoring your message to a specific individual. It involves imagining a single person who will be reading or listening to your content and crafting your message to resonate with that individual. This approach helps to create a more engaging and effective communication experience.

  • Why is the word "you" so effective in writing and communication?

    The word "you" is effective in writing and communication because it creates a sense of direct connection with the reader or listener. It makes the message feel more personal and engaging. Studies have shown that using the word "you" can increase engagement, viewership, and overall effectiveness of communication.

  • What is a family act?

    A family act is a word or phrase that is used only within a specific family or group of friends. It is a term that is unique to that particular group and is not commonly understood by others. Family acts often develop over time as a result of shared experiences, inside jokes, or personal preferences.

Show Notes

991. This week, we trace the origin and meaning of the word "dog," from its mysterious beginning to its current use in phrases like "hot dog" and "hair of the dog." Then we go through the "audience of one" concept, which involves tailoring content to a single, imagined recipient; and we look at how this approach can make your writing more understandable and engaging.

The dog segment was written by Valerie Fridland, a professor of linguistics at the University of Nevada in Reno and the author of "Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English." You can find her at valeriefridland.com.

| Edited transcript with links: https://grammar-girl.simplecast.com/episodes/hotdog/transcript

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From 'dog' to 'hot dog.' The 'audience of one' trick. More on the long S. Footbridge.

From 'dog' to 'hot dog.' The 'audience of one' trick. More on the long S. Footbridge.

Mignon Fogarty, Valerie Fridland