Posts filtered by tags: Cobham Brewer[x]


 

A linguistic League of Nations

Some time ago, a question followed my discussion of sound-symbolic and sound-imitative sl-words (March 13, 2019): “What about slave?” Obviously, as I replied, not all words of a certain phonetic structure belong to the same homogeneous group. Yet ever since, I have been planning to write something about this tricky subject. Slave would not have deserved special attention if it were not so close to Slav. By way of introduction, I decided to devote some space to the use of ethnic names in words an...
Tags: Books, Britain, Pennsylvania, Geneva, Essex, Fowler, Hollander, CC BY SA, Hollands, Cobham Brewer, Hrothgar, James A H Murray, Hrothgar Beowulf, Wealhtheo, J R Skelton Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons As, André Chivinski


Monthly gleanings for June 2018

Poor Pilgarlic and his plight The post on pilgarlic appeared on 13 June 2018. I knew nothing of the story mentioned in the comment by Stephen Goranson, but he always manages to discover the sources of which I am unaware. The existence of Pilgarlic River adds, as serious people might say, a new dimension to the whole business of pilgarlic. Who named the river? Is the hydronym fictitious? If so, what was the impulse behind the coinage? If genuine, how old is it, and why so called? What happened i...
Tags: Books, Sweden, The New York Times, Shakespeare, Pearl Harbor, Picasso, Mackay, Bakhtin, Cromwell, Munroe, Gunnar, Chaucer, Cobham Brewer, Pixabay, Stephen Goranson, Reay


An’t please the pigs

My database on please the pigs is poor, but, since a question about it has been asked by an old and faithful correspondent, I’ll say about it what I can. Perhaps our readers will be able to contribute something to the sought-for etymology. When a word turns out to be of undisclosed or hopelessly obscure origin, we take the result more or less in stride, but it comes to many as a surprise to hear that the circumstances surrounding the emergence of an idiom are beyond reconstruction. In this blog,...
Tags: Books, Featured, Language, Bradford, Pigs, Christ, Idioms, St Paul, Pig, Wikimedia Commons, John Bradford, DEO, Pixie, Dictionaries & Lexicography, Oxford Etymologist, Anatoly Liberman


In one’s cups, or: good wine needs no bush

A Happy New Year! It has arrived, in full accordance with The Oxford Etymologist’s bold promise. Once upon a time, the ability to see into the future was called second sight (clairvoyance is too bookish). Despite the success of my prediction, this blog is sadly divorced from everyday life: it exists sub specie aeternitatis, that is, under the aspect of eternity, and deals with things independent of current events. A typical language column is a tuning fork. For example, some very important perso...
Tags: Books, England, Featured, Language, Linguistics, Camden, Shakespeare, Beowulf, Pliny, Etymology, Latin, Bacchus, Cato, Jack London, Sharpe, ENGL


Shebang, by Jingo!

The lines above look (and sound) like identical oaths, but that happens only because of the ambiguity inherent in the preposition by. No one swears by my name, while Mr. Jingo has not written or published anything. Nowadays, jingoism “extreme and aggressive patriotism” and jingoist do not seem to be used too often, though most English speakers still understand them, but in Victorian England, in the late nineteen-seventies and some time later, the words were on everybody’s lips. After the siege o...
Tags: Books, Japan, England, France, Scotland, Language, Moscow, Jesus, Edinburgh, Oldham, Etymology, Murray, Victorian England, Editor's Picks, Burns, Robert Burns