Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The truth about ‘Latinx’

In recent years, the term Latinx has become popular in academic settings in English to designate a group of people without reference to gender, which is designated by -o and -a endings in some Romance languages. While academics and Twitter users have begun to use the term, only 2% of the U.S. population actually identifies with this word.  Latinx […]

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“To lie doggo,” an idiom few people seem to know

Last week (November 6, 2019), in passing, I mentioned my idea of the origin of the word dog and did not mean to return to this subject, but John Cowan suggested that I consider an alternative etymology (dog as a color word). I have been aware of it for a long time, but why is my idea worse?

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Seven events that shaped country music

Developed from European and African-American roots, country music has shaped American culture while it has been shaped itself by key events that have transformed it, leading to new musical styles performed by innovative artists. 1. 1927, Bristol, Tennessee: country music’s “Big Bang” In late July of 1927, New York producer Ralph Peer arrived in a […]

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How meningitis has (almost) been conquered

Scientific discovery is often a messy affair. It’s sometimes intentional, sometimes accidental, sometimes cluttered with error, and always complicated. The ultimate value of scientific observations may not be recognized for many years until the discovery emerges to shed new insight on old problems and become etched in the scientific canon. Such is the story of the conquest of meningitis, a devastating infection of the brain that is usually fatal if not treated.

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Video surveillance footage shows how rare violence really is

Watching the news, violence seems on the rise all around us. Most Americans think crime is going up, have a pessimistic outlook of the future, and feel increasingly unsafe. As a result, people accept more and more surveillance to protect themselves from violent and criminal behavior. Surveillance cameras are installed with the assumption that we need to fear […]

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Introducing the nominees for Place of the Year 2019

2019 has been a year of significant events – from political unrest to climate disasters worldwide. Some of the most scrutinized events of the past year are tied inextricably to the places where they occurred – political uprisings driven by the residents of a city with an uneasy history, or multiple deaths caused by the […]

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Q&A with author Craig L. Symonds

There are a number of mysteries surrounding the Battle of Midway, and a breadth of new information has recently been uncovered about the four day struggle. We sat down with naval historian Craig L. Symonds, author of The Battle of Midway, newly released in paperback, to answer some questions about the iconic World War II battle.

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How firms with employee representation on their boards actually fare

Board-level employee representation has re-entered the political agenda. Even in countries that have traditionally been skeptical about giving employees more say in corporate decision-making now discuss board-level employee representation. Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May suggested changes in this direction in her country in 2017. More recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the leading presidential […]

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Two years into the opioid emergency

Two years ago the Trump administration declared the opioid crisis in the United States a public health emergency, positioning federal agencies to respond to what has been called the public health crisis of our time. Congress followed, appropriating billions of dollars to federal agencies and state and local governments to support a variety of programs to address opioid […]

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What we learned from the financial crisis of 2008

It has been over a decade since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, which threatened to destroy the financial system, and wreaked havoc on the financial well-being of households, firms, and governments.

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Monthly gleanings for October 2019

I received a question about the origin of French adieu and its close analogs in the other Romance languages. This question is easy to answer. The word goes back to the phrase à Dieu “to God,” which is the beginning of the longer locution à Dieu commande, that is, “I commend (you) to God” or, if we remain with French, “je recommande à Dieu.” The European parting formulas are of rather few types.

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Heretics to demigods: evangelicals and the American founders

In recent years, many evangelicals have lauded the American Founders.  It has become customary for them to heap effusive praise on the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  Even those who were openly contemptuous of Christian orthodoxy such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine […]

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Why people disagree

People disagree. Human beings often express conflicting views about a variety of different issues, from food and music to science and politics. With the development of advanced communication technologies, this fact has become more visible than ever. (Think of Twitter wars.) The extent and depth of our disagreements can lead many to despair of making […]

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Our souls make us who we are

The vast majority of today’s scientists and philosophers believe that human beings are just physical objects, very complicated machines, the essential part of which is our brain which is sometimes conscious. Richard Swinburne argues that on the contrary each human consists of a body which is a physical object, and a soul which is an immaterial thing, interacting with their body; it is our soul which is conscious and is the essential part of each of us.

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Completing your verbs—infinitive and gerunds

Most of us have been told at some point that a sentence has a subject and predicate and that the predicate consists of a verb and an object—the girl kicked the ball. We may have been introduced to distinctions such as transitive, intransitive, and linking verbs (like carry, snore, and become, respectively). But there is much more to the intricacies of what must follow a verb.

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