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Etymology gleanings for September 2017

Cognates and borrowing once again It has been known for a long time that the only difference between borrowing and genetic relation is one of chronology.  Engl. town once meant “enclosure,” as German Zaun still does. Russian tyn also means “fence.” There is a consensus that the Russian word is a borrowing from Germanic because […]

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Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: an audio guide

Anna Karenina is a beautiful and intelligent woman, whose passionate love for a handsome officer sweeps aside all other ties—to her marriage and to the network of relationships and moral values that bind the society around her. Her love affair with Vronsky is played out alongside the developing romance between Kitty and Levin, and in […]

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Trashing Thurse, an international giant

While working on my previous post (“What do we call our children?”), which, among several other words, featured imp, I realized how often I had discussed various unclean spirits in this blog. There was once an entire series titled “Etymological Devilry.” Over the years, I have dealt with Old Nick, grimalkin, gremlin, bogey, goblin, and […]

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Silas Marner, Threads, and Weaving [an excerpt]

Repetition and storytelling are bound in the novel’s representation of weaving, a theme that exemplifies the manner in which Silas Marner deftly moves between fable and realism. Classical mythology and fairy tales are crowded with weavers. Silas’s insect-like activity (he is reduced ‘to the unquestioning activity of a spinning insect’ and ‘seemed to weave, like the spider, from pure impulse, without reflection’ (p. 14)) calls to mind the myth of Arachne, who boldly challenged a goddess to a weaving contest.

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How a failed suicide affects the brain

The numerous factors that induce someone to think about suicide, the “ideators,” are often different from those who actually attempt suicide, the “attempters.” For example, the traditional risk factors for suicide, such as depression, hopelessness, many psychiatric disorders, and impulsivity, strongly predict suicide ideation but weakly predict suicide attempts among ideators.

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Diving into the OHR Archive

One of my favorite tasks as the OHR’s Social Media Coordinator is interviewing people for the blog. I get to talk to authors of recent articles from the OHR, oral historians using the power of conversation to create change, and a whole lot more.

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What do we call our children?

In the Indo-European languages, most words for “mother,” “father,” “son,” and “daughter” are very old—most (rather than all), because some have been replaced by their rivals. Thus, Latin filia “daughter” is the feminine of filius “son,” and filius has nothing to do with son, which is indeed ancient.

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Taxing or exempting the church

Religious entities pay more taxes than many people believe. Moreover, churches and other religious organizations are treated quite diversely by different taxes and by different states. Sometimes churches and other religious entities are taxed in the same fashion as secular organizations and persons are.

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A photographer at work: Martin Parr behind the scenes

Martin Parr is one of Britain’s best-known contemporary photographers, with a broad international following, and President of Magnum, the world-famous photo agency. His social documentary style of photography turns a wry and sometimes satirical lens on British life and social rituals, lightened by humour and affection. Parr turned his lens on life at the University of Oxford, capturing the day-to-day life of the colleges and University at work and play.

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Don’t play politics with the debt ceiling

It must be frustrating to be a Congressional Democrat these days. The minority party in both the House and Senate and having lost the White House, the only thing keeping the Democrats relevant is a dysfunctional White House and a disunited Republican majority in Congress. There is, however, one area in which they should drop any obstructionism and play ball with the Republicans—raising the debt ceiling.

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Two paradoxes of belief

The Liar paradox arises via considering the Liar sentence: L: L is not true. and then reasoning in accordance with the: T-schema: Φ is true if and only if what Φ says is the case. Along similar lines, we obtain the Montague paradox (or the paradox of the knower) by considering the following sentence: M: M is not knowable. and then reasoning in accordance with the following two claims: Factivity: If Φ is knowable then what Φ says is the case.

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Working class narratives in the twenty first century

With school getting back in session, today on the blog we are exploring how instructors are using oral history in the classroom. The piece below, from filmmaker and UCLA Lecturer Virginia Espino explores the power of oral history to connect students to their campus community, and to help them collaboratively rethink what working class identity means in the modern era.

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