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Multifarious devils, part 1: “bogey”

By Anatoly Liberman
As has often happened in the recent past, this essay is an answer to a letter, but I will not only address the question of our correspondent but also develop the topic and write about Old Nick, his crew, and the goblin. The question was about the origin of the words bogey and boggle. I have dealt with both in my dictionary and in passing probably in the blog.

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Getting to the heart of poetry

OUP recently partnered with The Poetry Archive to support Poetry by Heart, a new national poetry competition in England. Here, competition winner Kaiti Soultana talks about her experience.

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The oddest English spellings, part 20: The letter “y”

By Anatoly Liberman
I could have spent a hundred years bemoaning English spelling, but since no one is paying attention, this would have been a wasted life. Not every language can boast of useless letters; fortunately, English is one of them. However, it is in good company, especially if viewed from a historical perspective. Such was Russian, which once overflowed with redundant letters.

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H. P. Lovecraft and the Northern Gothic Tongue

By Roger Luckhurst
There is a very specific language of Gothic and horror literature that has its roots buried deep in the history of English: doom has been around since Old English; dread carries over from Middle English; eerie, that sense of vague superstitious uneasiness, enters Middle English through Scottish. The adjectives are harsh and guttural: moons are always gibbous, the trees eldritch.

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Panning for etymological gold: “aloof”

By Anatoly Liberman
It may not be too widely known how hard it is to discover the origin of even “easy” words. Most people realize that the beginning of language is lost and that, although we can sometimes reconstruct an earlier stage of a word, we usually stop when it comes to explaining why a given combination of sounds is endowed with the meaning known to us.

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Gleanings from Dickens

By Anatoly Liberman
Some time ago I read Sidney P. Moss’s 1984 book Charles Dickens’ Quarrel with America. Those who remember Martin Cuzzlewit and the last chapter of American Notes must have a good idea of the “quarrel.” However, this post is, naturally, not on the book or on Dickens’s nice statement: “I have to go to America—on my way to the Devil” (this statement is used as an epigraph to Moss’s work).

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Monthly etymological gleanings for April 2013

By Anatoly Liberman
Thief again. One comment on thief referred to an apparently admissible Lithuanian cognate. It seems that if we were dealing with an Indo-European word of respectable antiquity, more than a single Baltic verb for “cower” or “seize” would have survived in this group. I also mentioned the possibility of borrowing, and another correspondent wondered from whom the Goths could learn such a word.

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Obrigado por participar da Semana da Biblioteca Nacional

Obrigado a todos que participaram no período de acesso gratuito à Oxford Reference e ao OED pela Semana da Biblioteca Nacional. Tanto o OED quanto a Oxford Reference oferecem algum conteúdo gratuito adicional para o público e ambas estão disponíveis para teste gratuito por um período de 30 dias.

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Gracias por participar en la Semana Nacional de Bibliotecas

Gracias a todos los que participaron en el periodo de acceso gratuito a Oxford Reference y al OED para la Semana Nacional de Bibliotecas. El OED y Oxford Reference ofrecen periodos de prueba gratuitos adicionales y ambos se encuentran disponibles por 30 días. (Las bibliotecas pueden escribir sus solicitudes para periodos de prueba gratuitos a library[dot]marketing[at]oup[dot]com).

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Thank you for participating in National Library Week

Thank you to everyone who participated in the free access period to Oxford Reference and the OED for National Library Week. Both the OED and Oxford Reference offer some additional free content for the public and are both available for 30 day free trials for libraries (Libraries can email free trial requests to library[dot]marketing[at]oup[dot]com).

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Does the lily grow in the valet? Is good ballet bally good?

By Anatoly Liberman
This post is an answer to a letter I received from our correspondent Jonathan Davis. Not too long ago, I mentioned the differences in the pronunciation of niche: in the speech of most Americans it rhymes with pitch, but the rhyme niche/leash can also be heard, and it seems to be prevalent in Britain. Mr. Davis is an Englishman living in Texas and, not unexpectedly, favors the vowel of ee and sh in niche, while those around him prefer short i and ch.

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Celebre a Semana Nacional da Biblioteca com a OUP

Celebre a Semana Nacional da Biblioteca com acesso gratuito ao OED e à Oxford Reference, disponível para todos na América do Norte e do Sul até 20 de abril. Todas as pessoas terão acesso através do mesmo logon, sem necessidade de registro. Estamos liberando essa quantidade inédita de conteúdo da OUP em agradecimento a todo o trabalho vital que os bibliotecários realizam para apoiar seus patronos e em celebração à semana que honra as bibliotecas.

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Celebre la Semana Nacional de Bibliotecas con OUP

Celebre la Semana Nacional de Bibliotecas con acceso gratuito al OED y Oxford Reference, disponible para América del Norte, del Sur y el Caribe hasta el 20 de Abril. Visite cualquiera de los sitios Web y utilice libraryweek como nombre de usuario y contraseña para acceder a todo el contenido que los sitios tienen que ofrecer. Todo el mundo tendrá acceso a través del mismo nombre de usuario y contraseña y no se requiere ningún registro.

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Celebrate National Library Week with OUP

Celebrate National Library Week with free access to the OED and Oxford Reference, available to everyone in North and South America through the 20th of April. Visit either site and use the special username and password to login and access everything the sites have to offer. Everyone will have access through the same login and no registration of any kind is required.

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Will boys be boys?

By Anatoly Liberman
Within a year, two recent articles on the origin of the word boy have come to my attention. This is great news. Keeping a talent of such value under a bushel and withholding it from the rest of the world would be unforgivable. Nowadays, if a philological journal does not come as a reward for the membership in a popular society, its circulation is extremely low.

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Woman – or Suffragette?

By Lynda Mugglestone
In 1903, the motto “Deeds not Words” was adopted by Emmeline Pankhurst as the slogan of the new Women’s Social and Political Union. This aimed above all to secure women the vote, but it marked a deliberate departure in the methods to be used. Over fifty years of peaceful campaigning had brought no change to women’s rights in this respect; drastic action was, Emmeline decided, now called for.

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