Words of Mystery


As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “every word was once a poem”, but where do these words come from? Independent filmmaker Jessica Oreck unfolds some of the etymological meaning of words in her new animated mini-series, Mysteries of Vernacular. Each word is skillfully constructed within the pages of old books, then animated in a 90 second short, often taking 80 hours or more to create. When complete, the Mysteries’ shorts will contain 26 installments of word origins in alphabetical order. 

By day, Oreck produces documentary films on such topics as Russian folktales against a backdrop of war in The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga, and Arctic Cowboys, about reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland. The Mysteries mini-series began as a fun exercise in more immediate gratification, in contrast to these lengthy documentaries. To date she has completed four shorts, for the words CluePants and now Assassin and Hearse, however 22 more animated word stories are said to be in the wings, so stay tuned. If you are charmed by Jessica’s alphabetical shorts, please consider making a donation in kind.


:: An incarnation of this was previously posted on Letterology, via A Little House in the Clouds.

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