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Etymology gleanings for November 2020

Why is there no “master key” to the closet hiding the origin of language and all the oldest words?
Historians deal with documents or, when no documents have been preserved, with oral tradition, which may or may not be reliable. The earliest epoch did not leave us any documents pertaining to the origin of language.

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The Invention of Martial Arts

Bruce Lee and the invention of martial arts

Had he lived, Bruce Lee would have been 80 on 27 November 2020. This anniversary will be marked by countless people and innumerable institutions all over the world, from China to Russia to the USA, and almost everywhere in between. This is because, in the space of a few episodes of a couple of US TV series and four martial arts films, Bruce Lee changed global popular culture forever.

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Bizarre the world over

The posts for the last two weeks dealt with the various attempts to trace (or rather guess) the origin of the word bizarre, and I finished by saying that the word is, in my opinion, sound-imitative. In connection with this statement a caveat is in order…

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Bizarre is who bizarre does: part two

This post continues the discussion of “bizarre.” After the Basque etymology of this Romance adjective was rejected on chronological grounds, “bizarre” joined the sad crowd of “words of unknown (disputable, uncertain, undiscovered) origin.” However, several good scholars have tried to penetrate the darkness surrounding it. Each offered his own solution, a situation, as we will see, that does not bode well.

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Brahms's Violin Sonatas

Playing the opposite of what Brahms wrote

The first movement of Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G, op. 78, has led many violin-piano duos either to ignore Brahms’s tempo markings or actually play the opposite of what he wrote. Joel Lester considers the what might we learn from this oddity.

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Music & Autism

A conversation on music and autism (part two)

In the second and final part of this interview, author Michael B. Bakan speaks to his co-author Graeme Gibson, Dr Deborah Gibson, and legendary science fiction author William Gibson about writing science fiction, musical influences, and essential lessons autism has taught them.

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Music & Autism

A conversation on music and autism (part one)

In the first part of this two-part interview, author of “Music and Autism,” Michael Bakan speaks to his co-author Graeme Gibson, Dr Deborah Gibson, and legendary science fiction author William Gibson about musical instruments and autism.

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Reimagining our music classes for Zoom

All of us who are devoted to music education are facing new challenges due to the pandemic, and while we are lucky and grateful to have extraordinary technology at our disposal, it is undeniably frustrating to be isolated from each other, to deal with inadequate sound quality, poor connections, and time delays. We need to temporarily but urgently reinvent how we teach and connect with students.

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Etymology gleanings for October 2020

It is better to be hanged for a sheep than for a lamb. The proverb has a medieval ring, but it was first recorded in 1678. The context is obvious: since the punishment is going to be the same (hanging), it pays off to commit a greater crime and enjoy its benefits while you are alive.

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A “baker’s dozen” and some idioms about food

I decided to write this post, because I have an idea about the origin of the idiom baker’s dozen, and ideas occur so seldom that I did not want this opportunity to be wasted. Perhaps our readers will find my suggestion reasonable or refute it. I’ll be pleased to hear from them.

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International Open Access Week 2020: Opening the book

Often when we talk about open access OA, we talk about research articles in journals, but for over a decade there has been a growing movement in OA monograph publishing. To date, OUP has published 115 OA books and that number increases year on year, partly through an increasing range of funder initiatives and partly through opportunities to experiment.

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Harlots all over the place

Harlot turned up in English texts in the thirteenth century, acquired its present-day sense (“prostitute”) about two hundred years later, and ousted all the previous ones. Those “previous ones” are worthy of recording…

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The poetics and politics of rap music in the UK

Looking at current events in the UK, one can conclude that the Kingdom is far from united. While media outlets such as the BBC and newspapers tell a particular story of the situation, I have found that there is a missing voice in these discourses which shed an important light on these contexts. The British rapper, or MC.

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Making Time for Music

They may not be pros—but they’re recording artists now

“If you give yourself to something that you think isn’t going to work, sometimes it does,” says retired school teacher and lifelong choir member Linda Bluth. She’s commenting on a surprising new musical bright spot that has popped up during the coronavirus pandemic: ordinary people becoming recording artists.

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