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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: linguistics, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 135
1. Sticking my oar in, or catching and letting go of the crab

Last week some space was devoted to the crawling, scratching crab, so that perhaps enlarging on the topic “Crab in Idioms” may not be quite out of place. The plural in the previous sentence is an overstatement, for I have only one idiom in view. The rest is not worthy of mention: no certain meaning and no explanation. But my database is omnivorous and absorbs a lot of rubbish. Bibliographers cannot be choosers.

The post Sticking my oar in, or catching and letting go of the crab appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Periphrastic puzzles

Let us say that a sentence is periphrastic if and only if there is a single word in that sentence such that we can remove the word and the result (i) is grammatical, and (ii) has the same truth value as the original sentence.

The post Periphrastic puzzles appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Esperanto, chocolate, and biplanes in Braille: the interests of Arthur Maling

The Oxford English Dictionary is the work of people: many thousands of them. In my work on the history of the Dictionary I have found the stories of many of those people endlessly fascinating. Very often an individual will enter the story who cries out to be made the subject of a biography in his or her own right; others, while not quite fascinating enough for that, are still sufficiently interesting that they could be a dangerous distraction to me when I was trying to concentrate on the main task of telling the story of the project itself.

The post Esperanto, chocolate, and biplanes in Braille: the interests of Arthur Maling appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Our habitat: booth

This post has been written in response to a query from our correspondent. An answer would have taken up the entire space of my next “gleanings,” and I decided not to wait a whole month.

The post Our habitat: booth appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Ryan Lochte’s “over-exaggerating”

If there were an Olympics for making an apology, swimmer Ryan Lochte wouldn’t qualify. After being outed for his fake claim that he was robbed by men identifying themselves as Brazilian police officers, he took to social media for damage control. His Instragram apology on August 19 went this way

The post Ryan Lochte’s “over-exaggerating” appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Down to earth, or moving slowly, with the body close to the ground: “creep” and “crawl”

My travel through the English kr-words began with the verb creep, for I have for a long time tried to solve its mystery. On the face of it, there is no mystery. The verb has existed in Germanic from time immemorial, with cognates all over the place.

The post Down to earth, or moving slowly, with the body close to the ground: “creep” and “crawl” appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Sartor resartus, or some thoughts on the origin of the word “cloth” and the history of clothes

I keep clawing at the bars of the cage I built for myself. But first a digression. Walter W. Skeat wrote numerous notes on English etymology, some of which he eventually put together and published in book form. Much to my regret, not too many kl-words attracted his attention. But I was amused to discover that the verb clop means not only the sound made by shoes or hoofs but also “to cling, adhere to.”

The post Sartor resartus, or some thoughts on the origin of the word “cloth” and the history of clothes appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. A collection of Victorian profanities [infographic]

Euphemisms, per their definition, are used to soften offensive language. Topics such as death, sex, and bodily functions are often discussed delicately, giving way to statements like, "he passed away," "we're hooking up," or "it's that time of the month."

The post A collection of Victorian profanities [infographic] appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. What makes a good campaign slogan?

Slogan-wise, this year’s presidential campaign gives us Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and Hillary Clinton’s “Stronger Together” and “I’m with Her.” Trump’s slogan is a call to bring something back from the past. Clinton’s are statements of solidarity.

The post What makes a good campaign slogan? appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. As black as what?

All words, especially kl-words, and no play will make anyone dull. The origin of popular sayings is an amusing area of linguistics, but, unlike the origin of words, it presupposes no technical knowledge. No grammar, no phonetics, no nothin’: just sit back and relax, as they say to those who fly overseas first class. So here is another timeout.

The post As black as what? appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Etymology gleanings for August 2016

There was a desperate attempt to find a valid Greek cognate for cloth, but such a word did not turn up. One way out of the difficulty was to discover a Greek noun or verb beginning with sk- and refer its s to what is known as s-mobile (“movable s”). Movable s is all over the place. For instance, the English cognate of German kratzen is scratch (the same meaning).

The post Etymology gleanings for August 2016 appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Protecting our children from profanity

We adults are careful about swearing around our kids. We don’t want bad language to confuse or corrupt or otherwise harm them. As Steven Pinker says in passing while talking about profanity in The Stuff of Thought (2007), “if some people would rather not explain to their young children what a blow job is, there should be television channels that don’t force them to,” and there are. We have every right to be protective of our children even if we don’t have a reason.

The post Protecting our children from profanity appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. “Clown”: The KL-series pauses for a while

Those who have followed this series will remember that English kl-words form a loose fraternity of clinging, clinking, and clotted-cluttered things. Clover, cloth, clod, cloud, and clout have figured prominently in the story.

The post “Clown”: The KL-series pauses for a while appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Exotic – Episode 38 – The Oxford Comment

The word “exotic” can take on various different meanings and connotations, depending on how it is used. It can serve as an adjective or a noun, to describe a commodity, a person, or even a human activity. No matter its usage, however, the underlying perception is that is refers to something foreign or unknown, a function which can vary greatly in unison with other words, from enriching the luxury status of commodities, to fully sexualizing a literary work of psychology and anthropology, such as the Kamasutra.

In this episode of the Oxford Comment, we sat down with Eleanor Maier, Senior Editor at the Oxford English Dictionary, Giorgio Riello, co-author of Luxury: A Rich History, Wendy Doniger, author of Redeeimg the Kamasutra, Jessica Berson, author of The Naked Result: How Exotic Dance Became Big Business, and Rachel Kuo, contributing writer at everydayfeminism.com, to learn more about the history and usage of the word.

The post Exotic – Episode 38 – The Oxford Comment appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Is name studies a discipline in its own right?

Name studies have been around for a long time. In Ancient Greece, philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle saw names as central to the understanding of language, providing key insights into human communication and thought. Still, to the present day, questions such as Are names nouns? and Do names have meaning? are still hotly debated by scholars within both linguistics and name studies.

The post Is name studies a discipline in its own right? appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. Why people enjoy hearing Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation

Since the groundbreaking Original Pronunciation productions at Shakespeare’s Globe in London in 2004-05, OP has captured the imagination of performers, directors, and the play-going public. Going back to the pronunciation of the late 16th and early 17th centuries reveals nuances, puns, and rhymes that otherwise lie completely hidden, and gives fresh dynamism to productions.

The post Why people enjoy hearing Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Etymology gleanings for March 2016

Preparation for the Spelling Congress is underway. The more people will send in their proposals, the better. On the other hand (or so it seems to me), the fewer people participate in this event and the less it costs in terms of labor/labour and money, the more successful it will turn out to be. The fate of English spelling has been discussed in passionate terms since at least the 1840s.

The post Etymology gleanings for March 2016 appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Shakespeare’s linguistic legacy

William Shakespeare died four hundred years ago this month and my local library is celebrating the anniversary. It sounds a bit macabre when you put it that way, of course, so they are billing it as a celebration of Shakespeare’s legacy. I took this celebratory occasion to talk with my students about Shakespeare’s linguistic legacy.

The post Shakespeare’s linguistic legacy appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. Five random facts about Shakespeare today

Certain facts surrounding Shakespeare, his work, and Elizabethan England have been easy to establish. But there is a wealth of Shakespeare knowledge only gained centuries after his time, across the globe, and far beyond the Anglophone realm.

The post Five random facts about Shakespeare today appeared first on OUPblog.

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20. Beyond words: How language-like is emoji?

The decision by Oxford Dictionaries to select an emoji as the 2015 Word of the Year has led to incredulity in some quarters. Hannah Jane Parkinson, writing in The Guardian, and doubtless speaking for many, brands the decision ‘ridiculous’ — after all, an emoji is, self-evidently, not a word; so the wagging fingers seem to say.

The post Beyond words: How language-like is emoji? appeared first on OUPblog.

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21. The shambolic life of ‘shambles’

You just lost your job. Your partner broke up with you. You’re late on rent. Then, you dropped your iPhone in the toilet. “My life’s in shambles!” you shout. Had you so exclaimed, say, in an Anglo-Saxon village over 1,000 years ago, your fellow Old English speakers may have given you a puzzled look. “Your life’s in footstools?” they’d ask. “And what’s an iPhone?”

The post The shambolic life of ‘shambles’ appeared first on OUPblog.

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22. French language in International Law

French is the language of diplomacy, German the language of science, and English the language of trade. Whereas German has been displaced by English in science, French continues to occupy a privileged position in international diplomacy. Its use is protected by its designation as one of the two working languages of the United Nations (UN), the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and ad hoc UN-backed tribunals.

The post French language in International Law appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. Etymology gleanings for July 2016

As I have observed in the past, the best way for me to make sure that I have an audience is to say something deemed prejudicial or wrong. Then one or more readers will break their silence, and I’ll get the recognition I deserve (that is, my comeuppance).

The post Etymology gleanings for July 2016 appeared first on OUPblog.

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24. The unadulterated truth about the history of the word “clean”

Perhaps the story would not have been worth telling if German and Dutch klein, the closest cognates of Engl. clean, did not mean “small.” Long ago, on 4 July 2007, I devoted half of my post to the adjective mad.

The post The unadulterated truth about the history of the word “clean” appeared first on OUPblog.

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25. The unadulterated truth about the history of the word “clean”

Perhaps the story would not have been worth telling if German and Dutch klein, the closest cognates of Engl. clean, did not mean “small.” Long ago, on 4 July 2007, I devoted half of my post to the adjective mad.

The post The unadulterated truth about the history of the word “clean” appeared first on OUPblog.

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