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MerPeople and Their Mer Language

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The word mermaid shares a common linguistic ancestor with several salty words, including marine, maritime, marinate, and the Spanish word for “ocean,” mar. The Netflix documentary MerPeople, directed by Oscar recipient Cynthia Wade, is a remarkable look at the world of amateur and professional mermaiding and the language bubbling up within it. Mers, as they call themselves, wear ornate, heavy tails of latex, silicone, or fabric, and wriggling out of one is commonly referred to as de-tailing. And the people who help carry them to and from the water are known as wranglers. Mermaiding enthusiasts belong to local pods, such as the OB merpod in San Diego, California, and some of them even greet each other with Shello! This is part of a complete episode.

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