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An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction

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ISBN-13: 978-0816652723
ISBN-10: 0816652724
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press (March 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816652724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816652723
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,729,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Henry Berry on May 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Scholarly, substantive, and engaging as it is, Liberman's dictionary in his own words is "written to test the chosen approach to the new dictionary" he has put together. The dictionary is intended to be a model for future etymological exploration and study. Most importantly for the field, it introduces but mostly exemplifies a new approach to the investigation of word origins and deciding on the right root for a word, when this can be done with a reasonable degree of assurance. As Liberman states and demonstrates with his analyses of 55 words, the large majority common, "tracing word origins is a game of probabilities" in which the "centrifugal principle" should be favored when it comes to assigning a word's cognate. This principle is explained, "All conditions being equal, tracing a word to a native root should be preferred to declaring it a borrowing. In similar fashion, it is more attractive to refer to an ascertainable foreign source than to an unidentifiable substrate."

Liberman is a professor of Germanic philology at the U. of Minnesota and author of many books and articles on etymology and language. Most of the 55 words he has chosen for this first book of a planned series are simple words. Among these are bird, drab, ever, dwarf, gawk, key, lass, man, pimp, toad, and witch. Nearly every word is traced to a root word among the northern European family of languages, the basis for Anglo-Saxon and modern English. The word "jeep" is an obvious exception. A few of the words are controversial four-letter or gender terms.
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