Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Representation in Cognitive Science

What is “representation” in the human brain and AI systems?

Neuroscience is beginning to make sense of what’s going on inside the human brain—a seemingly inscrutable organ of even great complexity. We can now see what some patterns of activity are, and we have an inkling of what they are doing, of how they track the environment, and subserve behaviour.

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Global Environmental Politics: Understanding the Governance of the Earth

COVID-19 and pollution: double standards, quadruple bias

The difference between policy responses to COVID-19 and to environmental crises is striking. When faced with the pandemic, governments around the world (with a few notable exceptions) adopted draconian measures to limit the disaster. These measures are not inconsequential: it will take years to reduce unemployment and the public debt. Yet, they were sacrifices considered necessary to protect public health.

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Cubs galore

The time has come to find out where cub came from. “Cub,” which surfaced in English texts only in the early sixteenth century, turned out to be an aggressive creature: it ousted whelp, and later the verb “to cub” came into existence. The constant suppression of old words by upstarts is a process worth noticing.

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