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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Word namesakes, also known as homonyms

Some homonyms are truly ancient: the words in question might sound alike or be nearly identical more than a millennium ago. But more often a newcomer appears from nowhere and pushes away his neighbors without caring for their well-being.

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An African American Dilemma

Which is better: school integration or separate, Black-controlled schools?

This summer journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones shocked Americans when she decided to decline tenure at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in favor of an endowed chair at historically Black Howard University. The choice is unexpected because Ms Hannah-Jones, who identifies as Black, has spent her career arguing for school integration as an essential strategy to equalize educational opportunities for students of color.

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From the rise to the maturation of the platform economy

Today, digital platform firms are among the most valuable and powerful firms in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the movement of social and economic activity online, embedding platforms further into our lives.

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How to chide according to rule, or the thin edge of the wedge

Chide remains a word “of unknown origin,” even though the Online Etymological Dictionary mentions the hypothesis suggested in my 2008 An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology. Perhaps it might be interesting to some of our readers to know the history of research into the etymology of this verb.

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Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest

The three greatest myths of the Fall of Tenochtitlán

13 August 2021 marks the moment, exactly five hundred years ago, when Spanish conquistadors won the battle for Tenochtitlán, completing their astonishing conquest of the Aztec Empire, initiating the three-century colonial era of New Spain. At least, that is the summary of the event that has since predominated. In recent decades, scholars have developed increasingly informed and complex understandings of the so-called Conquest, and opinions in Mexico itself have become ever more varied and sophisticated.

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Jazz on a Summer's Day

Inspiring women in jazz, with Nikki Iles

As a teenager, I took clarinet and piano lessons at the Royal Academy of Music on Saturdays. I always particularly loved the chamber groups and small group music-making, so in some ways, it’s no surprise that I ended up in the jazz world! My dad was a semi-pro jazz drummer and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by the music of Oscar Peterson, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella and George Shearing as I grew up.

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A world without relative clauses

Where does the relative clause begin and the main clause end? Why does the teacher sometimes call them adjective clauses? Should I use that or which or who? And what is the story with restrictive and non-restrictive?

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What Everyone Needs to Know

What everyone needs to know about 2021 thus far

The year 2020 posed myriad challenges for everyone and now that we have reached the mid-way point of 2021, it is clear that, although the crises are not yet fully averted, the year thus far has already boasted some encouraging events.

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Introduction to International Relations

Fiddling while Rome burns: climate change and international relations

It is Wednesday morning, my wife and kids have left for work and school and I am sitting in my home office, which has a beautiful view of the Gudenå river valley. I have the whole day to myself, no teaching, no meetings, no administrative drudgery. I am currently working on three books, all under contract with Oxford University Press, and it is one of those bright spring mornings that are perfect for writing. What’s not to like?

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Etymology gleanings for July 2021: tending my flock

This week’s blog post concerns the origin of English “flock”, as in a flock of gulls and a tuft of wool. The two flocks are not related and the origin of the first is unknown. I am unable to unravel this knot, but I can perhaps explain how the problem originated and venture a precarious hypothesis.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Education

Why climate change education needs more empathy

As citizens of this planet, we remain at an impasse when it comes to drastically changing the course of our environmental futures. At the heart of this impasse is climate change and the future of human and more-than-human survival. And yet, a significant key to potentially resolving climate change revolves around how we communicate with […]

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The neuroscience of human consciousness [podcast]

How can the study of the human brain help us unravel the mysteries of life? Going a step further, how can having a better understanding of the brain help us to combat debilitating diseases or treat mental illnesses? In this episode of The Oxford Comment, we focused on human consciousness and how studying the neurological basis for human cognition can lead not only to better health but a better understanding of human culture, language, and society as well.

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Brain

It’s time to use software-as-medicine to help an injured brain

Multiple mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (“mTBIs”) can put military service members at an elevated risk of cognitive impairment. Service members and veterans were enrolled in a trial with a new type of brain training program, based on the science of brain plasticity and the discovery that intensive, adaptive, computerized training—targeting sensory speed and accuracy—can rewire the brain to improve cognitive function. The trial found that the training program significantly improved overall cognitive function.

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OUP Libraries

Are UK public libraries heading in a new direction?

Since early 2020, we’ve seen the phrase “the new normal” used everywhere to describe every aspect of our lives post-coronavirus. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 had a huge impact on the library sector with closures happening globally, equally seen among institutional libraries as well as public libraries. As a result, we’ve seen new initiatives being adopted and revised strategies implemented.

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A Useful History of Britain

Beyond history and identity: what else can we learn from the past?

History is important to collective identity in the same way that memory is important to our sense of ourselves. It is difficult to explain who we are without reference to our past: place and date of birth, class background, education, and so on. A shared history can, by the same token, give us a shared identity—to be a Manchester United fan is to have a particular relationship to the Munich air disaster, the Busby babes, George Best, Eric Cantona, and so on.

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