Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Search Term: "Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictio

Book thumbnail image

All hail goddess English?

By Dennis Baron
Global English may be about to go celestial. A political activist in India wants the country’s poorest caste to improve its status by worshipping the English language, and to start off he’s building a temple to Goddess English in the obscure village of Bankagaon, near Lakhimpur Khiri in Uttar Pradesh.

English started on the long path to deification back in the colonial age, and in many former British colonies English has become both an indispensable tool for survival in the modern world and a bitter reminder of the Raj. In 1835, Thomas Babington Macaulay recommended to fellow members of the India Council that the British create a system of English-language schools in the colony to train an elite class of civil servants, “Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect,” who would help the British rule the subcontinent.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Children learning English: an educational revolution

By Fiona Copland and Sue Garton
Did you know that the introduction of languages into primary schools has been dubbed the world’s biggest development in education? And, of course, overwhelmingly, the language taught is English. Already the world’s most popular second language, the desire for English continues apace, at least in the short term, and with this desire has come a rapid decrease in the age at which early language learning (ELL) starts.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Words we’re thankful for

Here on the OxfordWords blog we’re constantly awed and impressed by the breadth and depth of the English language. As this is a great week to be appreciative, we’ve asked some fellow language-lovers which word they’re most thankful for. From quark to quotidian, ych a fi to robot, here’s what they said:

Read More
Book thumbnail image

How to save an endangered language

By Dennis Baron
There are roughly 7,000 languages spoken around the globe today. Five hundred years ago there were twice as many, but the rate of language death is accelerating. With languages disappearing at the rate of one every two weeks, in ninety years half of today’s languages will be gone.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The indiscipline of discipline, or, whose ‘English’ is it anyway?

By Susan Bruce
It is a great educational paradox that the nature of one of the UK’s key subjects is both ill-defined and poorly understood. What counts as ‘English’ is contested at all levels, from arguments about the literacy hour at primary level, through the relative importance of English Language and English Literature at GCSE level, to the introduction of a new A Level in Creative Writing, and the ‘confirmatory consultations’ recently conducted over the reform of AL and GCSE English syllabi.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Verily, this tomfoolery must be quashed!

By Catherine Soanes
‘Cripes! What bally tomfoolery are those diabolical cads in the media coming up with now?’ I asked my betrothed, when confronted with a spate of recent news reports. ‘Verily, I must quash this balderdash forthwith.’

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Resistance may be futile: Are there alternatives to Global English?

By Dennis Baron
English is a world language. Once an insignificant set of immigrant dialects on an obscure island in the rainswept North Sea, English is now the de facto language of multinational business, of science and technology, and of rock ‘n’ roll. Non-English speakers around the globe seem to be learning English as fast as they can. Plus there are more than three times as many English articles in Wikipedia as there are German, the second-biggest language of the online encyclopedia. When it comes to the global domination of English, resistance may be futile.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The Oxford Companion to the London 2012 Opening Ceremony

Many questioned how the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was going to make a mark after the spectacular Beijing Olympics only four years earlier. While Beijing presented the Chinese people moving as one body — dancing, marching, and presenting a united front to the world — the British answer was a chaotic and spirited ceremony, shifting from cricket matches to coordinated dance routines, Mr Bean’s comedic dream to a 100-foot Lord Voldemort.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Can you speak American?

A wide-ranging account of American English, Richard Bailey’s Speaking American investigates the history and continuing evolution of our language from the sixteenth century to the present. Now it’s time to ask yourself how well you really know your American English. We’ve composed a quiz for some Friday fun. Can you speak American?

Read More
Book thumbnail image

‘Dr. Murray, Oxford’: a remarkable Editor

Dictionaries never simply spring into being, but represent the work and research of many. Only a select few of the people who have helped create the Oxford English Dictionary, however, can lay claim to the coveted title ‘Editor’. In the first of an occasional series for the OxfordWords blog on the Editors of the OED, Peter Gilliver introduces the most celebrated, Sir James A. H. Murray.

Read More
800-oupblogbookcover

The best of a decade on the OUPblog

Wednesday, 22 July 2015, marks the tenth anniversary of the OUPblog. In one decade our authors, staff, and friends have contributed over 8,000 blog posts, from articles and opinion pieces to Q&As in writing and on video, from quizzes and polls to podcasts and playlists, from infographics and slideshows to maps and timelines. Anatoly Liberman alone has written over 490 articles on etymology. Sorting through the finest writing and the most intriguing topics over the years seems a rather impossible task.

Read More