The eternal Cheshire cat

Unlike Alice, who was advised to begin at the beginning and stop only when she came to an end, I’d rather begin at the end. The English-speaking world is interested in the Cheshire cat only because
Unlike Alice, who was advised to begin at the beginning and stop only when she came to an end, I’d rather begin at the end. The English-speaking world is interested in the Cheshire cat only because [More]

How to write dialogue

I'm sitting at my computer early in the morning and my wife walks in. "Good morning," she says. "Is there any more coffee?" I nod. "Do you want some?" I answer. "I'll get it," she says. "What are
I'm sitting at my computer early in the morning and my wife walks in. "Good morning," she says. "Is there any more coffee?" I nod. "Do you want some?" I answer. "I'll get it," she says. "What are [More]

Ineffable facts, deep ignorance, and the sub-algebra hypothesis: Part 2

If there are any ineffable facts, then it is striking that they essentially are nowhere to be found. It is natural to think of ineffable facts as rare, radical exceptions, something unusual, maybe
If there are any ineffable facts, then it is striking that they essentially are nowhere to be found. It is natural to think of ineffable facts as rare, radical exceptions, something unusual, maybe [More]

Face to face with brash: part 2

James Murray showed great caution in his discussion of the Modern English words spelled and pronounced as brash (see Part I of this essay). It remains unclear how many of them are related. One of
James Murray showed great caution in his discussion of the Modern English words spelled and pronounced as brash (see Part I of this essay). It remains unclear how many of them are related. One of [More]

Ineffable facts, deep ignorance, and the sub-algebra hypothesis: Part 1

There are many things we do not know, but sometimes our ignorance runs deeper than other times. The post Ineffable facts, deep ignorance, and the sub-algebra hypothesis: Part 1 appeared first on
There are many things we do not know, but sometimes our ignorance runs deeper than other times. The post Ineffable facts, deep ignorance, and the sub-algebra hypothesis: Part 1 appeared first on [More]

Face to face with brash: part 1

Lat week, I discussed the hardships endured by an etymologist who decides to investigate the origin of English br- words, and promised to use that post as an introduction to the story of brash.
Lat week, I discussed the hardships endured by an etymologist who decides to investigate the origin of English br- words, and promised to use that post as an introduction to the story of brash. [More]

Approaching “brash”

Two weeks ago, I promised to deal with the word brash, but, before doing so, I would like to make it clear that we are approaching a minefield. Few people, except for professional etymologists,
Two weeks ago, I promised to deal with the word brash, but, before doing so, I would like to make it clear that we are approaching a minefield. Few people, except for professional etymologists, [More]

From good wine to ivy

Last week’s post was about the proverb: “Good wine needs no bush,” and something was said about ivy as an antidote to good and bad wine. So now it may not be entirely out of place to discuss the
Last week’s post was about the proverb: “Good wine needs no bush,” and something was said about ivy as an antidote to good and bad wine. So now it may not be entirely out of place to discuss the [More]

The language of chess

The dust has barely settled on last year’s world chess championship match in New York: Norway’s Magnus Carlson defended his title again the tough challenger Sergei Karjakin, in a close match. The
The dust has barely settled on last year’s world chess championship match in New York: Norway’s Magnus Carlson defended his title again the tough challenger Sergei Karjakin, in a close match. The [More]

In one’s cups, or: good wine needs no bush

A Happy New Year! It has arrived, in full accordance with The Oxford Etymologist’s bold promise. Once upon a time, the ability to see into the future was called second sight (clairvoyance is too
A Happy New Year! It has arrived, in full accordance with The Oxford Etymologist’s bold promise. Once upon a time, the ability to see into the future was called second sight (clairvoyance is too [More]