A Primer of English Etymology (Google eBook)

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Cosimo, Inc., Jul 28, 2005 - Reference - 124 pages
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In the present little book, I merely endeavor to draw out a general sketch of some of the more important principles which should be observed by all who pretend to have any acquaintance with English etymology."-Walter W. Skeat, in his PrefaceFirst published in 1910, this classic introduction to the linguistics of the English language is notable not only for its scholarly value but for a charming defensiveness of its own erudition ("The general ignorance of even the most elementary notions on the subject [of etymology], as perpetually exhibited in our periodical literature, is truly deplorable," the author sniffs). Cambridge professor Skeat concisely explores the history of the English language and the sources from which it is derived, including the influences of military and religious invasions from the continent of Europe; the ancient Anglo-Saxon symbols and sounds the language utilizes; how English spelling came to be standardized; the historical mutation of vowel sounds; and prefixes, suffixes, and roots.British academic WALTER WILLIAM SKEAT (1835-1912) was Erlington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Cambridge. He also wrote (with A.L. Mayhew) A Concise Dictionary of Middle English: From A.D. 1150 To 1580.
  

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Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
16
Section 3
29
Section 4
42
Section 5
53
Section 6
61
Section 7
71
Section 8
87
Section 9
100
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Page 2 - the common language of the more educated classes, among the British, was Latin, which was in use as a literary language and as the language of the British Christian church,
Page v - in its pronunciation, is seldom found to be amongst the subjects which ' every schoolboy knows.' A person wholly ignorant of botany would hesitate, in these days, to dash headlong into a botanical subject; but similar caution, as respects the study of etymology, is frequently scouted as displaying a needless timidity. Every man, as was once observed to me, thinks
Page v - The general ignorance of even the most elementary notions on the subject, as perpetually exhibited in our periodical literature, is truly deplorable, owing probably to the fact that anything like a scientific treatment of etymology is of comparatively modern growth, It is

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About the author (2005)

Walter William Skeat, English philologist, was born in London on November 21,1835, and educated at King's College School (Wimbledon), Highgate School, and Christ's College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in July 1860. His grandsons include the noted palaeographer T. C. Skeat and the stained glass painter Francis Skeat. Skeat's principal achievement was his Etymological English Dictionary. While preparing the dictionary he wrote hundreds of short articles on word origins for the London-based journal: Notes and Queries. Skeat is responsibel for coining the meaning of a "ghost word" --- a meaningless word that came into existence or acceptance, not by being derived through long-standing usage, nor by being coined at need, but only as the result of an error. His other works include: A Concise Dictionary of Middle English (1888), in conjunction with A. L. Mayhew; A Student's Pastime (1896), a volume of essays; The Chaucer Canon (1900); and A Primer of Classical and English Philology (1905). Skeat died in 1912.

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