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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The spell of spelling

English spelling can be endlessly frustrating. From its silent letters (could, stalk, salmon, February, and on and on) to its nonsensical rules (i before e except ….), to the pronunciation of ough (in cough, through, though, and thought).

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Word Origins

In one’s stockinged feet

One does not need to be an etymologist to suggest that stocking consists of “stock-” and “-ing”. The trouble is that though “-ing” occurs in some nouns, it looks odd in stocking. Few English words have more seemingly incompatible senses than stock.

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Publishing 101

Is publishing sustainable?

The shift from print publishing toward digital publishing brings environmental benefits that will help to reduce publishing’s contribution to the climate and nature emergencies.

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The Virgin of the Seven Daggers and Other Stories by Vernon Lee

Vernon Lee, history, and horror

Some of the most acclaimed films to come out of the horror mini-boom of the past decade mix history and horror in disconcerting ways. Of course, these are not the first scary movies or stories do this. But when, and how, did horror first get historical?

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Cold War: A Very Short Introduction

Nine new books to understand the Cold War [reading list]

This October marks the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tense political and military standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. To mark the anniversary, we’re sharing some of our latest history titles on the Cold War for you to explore, share, and enjoy. We have also granted free access to selected chapters, for a limited time, for you to dip into.

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The Masnavi, Book Five

Rumi’s subversive poetry and his sexually explicit stories

Rumi, the thirteenth-century Muslim poet, has become a household name in the last few decades, even becoming the best-selling poet in North America thanks to translations of his work into English. Verses of his poetry are used to begin yoga sessions, religious ceremonies, and weddings, and are ubiquitous throughout social media, in addition to actual […]

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Being a careful reader

When we are moving briskly though a supermarket, skimming ads, or focusing on a big purchase, it’s easy to be a less-than-careful reader. 

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Oxford Libraries

Which library should you visit? [Quiz]

Are you a lover of libraries or just looking for somewhere new to explore? Get some inspiration for your next trip by taking this short quiz and finding out which library you should visit!

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Word Origins

Noises off? A guarded tribute to onomatopoeia and sea-sickness

While trying to solve etymological riddles, we often encounter references to sound-imitation where we do not expect them, but the core examples hold no surprise. It seems that nouns and verbs describing all kinds of noises should illustrate the role of onomatopoeia, and indeed, hum, ending in m, makes one think of quiet singing (crooning) and perhaps invites peace, while drum, with its dr-, probably evokes the idea of the noise associated with this instrument.

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