Word Origins...And How We Know Them: Etymology for Everyone

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Oxford University Press, USA, Mar 16, 2009 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 325 pages
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Written in a funny, charming, and conversational style, Word Origins is the first book to offer a thorough investigation of the history and the science of etymology, making this little-known field accessible to everyone interested in the history of words. Anatoly Liberman, an internationally acclaimed etymologist, takes the reader by the hand and explains the many ways that English words can be made, and the many ways in which etymologists try to unearth the origins of words. Every chapter is packed with dozens of examples of proven word histories, used to illustrate the correct ways to trace the origins of words as well as some of the egregiously bad ways to trace them. He not only tells the known origins of hundreds of words, but also shows how their origins were determined. And along the way, the reader is treated to a wealth of fascinating word facts. Did they once have bells in a belfry? No, the original meaning of belfry was siege tower. Are the words isle and island, raven and ravenous, or pan and pantry related etymologically? No, though they look strikingly similar, these words came to English via different routes. Partly a history, partly a how-to, and completely entertaining, Word Origins invites readers behind the scenes to watch an etymologist at work.
 

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Word origins: -- and how we know them: etymology for everyone

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Liberman (German, Scandinavian, & Dutch, Univ. of Minnesota) is an internationally acclaimed scholar of word origins (among many other subjects) and has taken time out of his herculean task of writing ... Read full review

Contents

The Object of Etymology
1
The Thing and the Sign
7
Sound Imitative Words
16
Sound Symbolism
29
Folk Etymology
45
Words Based on Reduplication
55
Infixation
65
Disguised Compounds
75
A Retrospect The Methods of Etymology
158
Sound Laws
168
Change of Meaning in Language History
192
The Origin of the Earliest Words and Ancient Roots
219
The State of English Etymology
239
Conclusion
253
Notes
256
Index of English Words
298

Suffixes Prefixes Misdivision and Blends
88
Words and Names
107
Coinages by Known Individuals
127
Borrowed Words
136

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About the author (2009)


Anatoly Liberman is Professor of the Humanities at the University of Minnesota. For the past seventeen years, he has been working on a new etymological dictionary of English.

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