Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Tsunami: The World's Greatest Waves

How to survive a tsunami

If you, your family, or friends ever go near the shore of the ocean or a lake, you need to learn about tsunamis. Unfortunately, the current public perception of the tsunami hazards is all too often a three-step denial: (1) It won’t happen to me. (2) If it does, it won’t be that bad. (3) If it is bad, there’s nothing I could’ve done anyway. This perception must be changed in order to save lives and build a culture of tsunami hazard preparedness.

Read More

Etymology gleanings for December 2020 and January 2021

Impulses behind word formation never change. This statement surprised one of our readers. However, if we assume that most “natural” words are, at least to some degree, sound-symbolic and/or sound-imitative (onomatopoeic), such monosyllabic complexes as kob, kab, keb, kub, kid, kat, and their likes must have arisen again and again in the course of language history, even if every time they were tied to different objects.

Read More
Journeys through Galant expositions

Joseph Riepel and a very long hello

Joseph Riepel’s celebrated music theory treatise, Anfangsgründe zur musicalischen Setzkunst, unfolds in a lively and witty manner. Most of its chapters are framed in the guise of lessons, presented as dialogues between a teacher and student.

Read More
My song is love unknown, by Becky McGlade

A Q&A with composer Becky McGlade

I was fortunate enough to rehearse daily with the Truro cathedral choristers from the age of 8 to 13 (in the days before girl choristers). This fostered in me a love for choral music and for singing, which has continued throughout my life.

Read More
After the Black Death

The Black Death: how did the world’s deadliest pandemic change society?

COVID-19 has ignited global interest in past pandemics, and the Black Death of 1346-53 is the worst in recorded history. Recent research has transformed our understanding of this lethal disease, which coincided with environmental stress and rapid climate change. But in the long term it proved a watershed in human history, triggering a range of institutional, economic, and social changes that opened up the route to liberal modernity.

Read More

Language contact and idioms: out of India

The overlap between English and French idioms is considerable. Familiar quotations from Classical Greek and Latin, to say nothing of the Bible, are taken for granted. A few idioms seem to have come from India, which is not surprising, considering how long British servicemen lived in that country. The Indian connection has rarely been discussed; yet it deserves a brief mention.

Read More

Open Access – Episode 58 – The Oxford Comment [podcast]

Should academic research be available to everyone? How should such a flow of information be regulated? Why would the accessibility of information ever be controversial? Our topic today is Open Access (OA), the movement defined in the early 2000s to ensure the free access to and reuse of academic research on the Internet.

Read More
Movers & Stayers

The splintering South: the growing effect of migration on Republican strongholds

Migration patterns have laid siege to southern Republican dominance. Solidly red states a generation ago—Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina—are now purple or bright blue. The Democratic presence in Texas and South Carolina grows as Florida remains a battleground. These are all “fast growth” states. The remaining Republican bulwark represents a declining portion of the Southern electorate. If the South is the core of the modern Republican Party, its days are numbered.

Read More
Sister Style

More than a Vogue cover: Madam Vice President Kamala Harris

The Vogue cover photo controversy is much more than a disagreement over a styling choice. Black women’s bodies are political. Thus, the uproar over Kamala Harris’s Vogue cover must be read through a socio-cultural lens that acknowledges the intersectional salience of her racialized and gendered body.

Read More
Making Time for Making Music

Online music-making with nearly no lag time—really!

Susan Alexander found a way to fill the “big, depressing hole in your life where playing music with other people used to be” when she discovered JamKazam, one of several free music-making software programs that nearly eliminate the annoying lag time in sound transmission that occurs when musicians try to make music together on Zoom or Skype.

Read More