In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews81 An Analytical Dictionary ofEnglish Etymology: An Introduction. 2008. Anatoly Liberman, with the assistance ofJ. Lawrence Mitchell. Minneapolis , MN: University of Minnesota Press. Pp. xlvi + 359. w: iat a pleasure it is to review this magnificent volume. Liberman's encyclopedic grasp of the subject matter, together with that of the relevant literature, shine through on every page. Moreover, Liberman's wit and eloquent writing skills make this volume a delight to read. This is the kind of work I wish had been available to me when I was doing research on distant linguistic relationship, and notjust for English! Liberman began work on the dictionary in 1987. He is responsible for doing the research and for writing the etymologies. He was assisted by J. Lawrence Mitchell, who prepared part of the volume for publication. This is the introductory volume to a projected, comprehensive etymological dictionary of the English language. In it, Liberman lists and discusses all of the proposed etymologies for fifty-five English words of obscure, unknown, or disputed origin. Among these are some very common words such as bird, boy, brain, ever, girl, key, man, understand, and yet, along with common animal names such as rabbit, robin, and toad Also discussed are several slang terms such asfilch, gawk, mooch, nudge, pimp, and skedaddle. Some of the words included in this volume have been part of the English language for centuries: beacon, hemlock, ivy, oat, and toad. Still others are more recent: slang, kitty-corner, andjeep. The structure of the book is fairly straightforward. The book begins with a lengthy Introduction (pp. xi-xxxii) — fascinating in its own right — followed by the Etymologies at a Glance (a summary of the etymologies for sixty-eight Modern English words, along with three Old English entries [fiedel 'playactor,' ludgeat 'postern,' and myltestre 'prostitute'], listing the conclusions reached in this volume concerning the most likely derivation of the words under discussion) (pp. xxxiii-xlvi) , then by An Analytical Dictionary of English Etymology (the in-depth etymologies for the fifty-five English words mentioned above) (pp. 1-231), next by a Bibliography (an exhaustive list of references ) (pp. 233-312), and ending with various indices — Index of Subjects (pp. 313-316), Index of Words (pp. 317-348), and Index of Personal and Place Names (349-359). As is to be expected, the actual etymologies are of uneven length. Each entry consists of the head-word, capitalized and in boldface, followed by the date of first attestation. The first part is an introductory section in italics, followed by a thorough discussion of the various proposals concerning the possible origin of the word. After evaluating the strong points and weak points of each proposal, liberman gives his own view of the most probable derivation of the word. Dictionaries:Journal ofthe Dictionary Society ofNorth America 29 (2008), 81-84. 82Reviews As I was working my way through the volume, I noticed several minor typographical errors here and there (such as "Phrygeans" and "Phrygean" [p. 157], which should be "Phrygians" and "Phrygian," respectively) as well as some places where there are extra spaces in the text (such as in "non- Germanic " [p. xv], which should be "non-Germanic"), but, for the most part, this is a carefully edited and well laid out work. As an aside, I have long been humbled by how easy it is to find these types of errors in the work of others and how extraordinarily difficult it is for me to find them when I am proofreading my own work. Consequently, the injunction 'judge not, lest ye be judged" has special relevance here. Rather than go through every etymology, I would like to focus on two of the words discussed by Liberman, inasmuch as my own research into distant linguistic comparison may help to throw light on the ultimate origin of these words. The first is the English word man. I agree with Liberman's rejection of relationship to the Proto-Indo-European root *men- 'to think' (p. 156). It is instructive that Liberman thinks that Ruhlen's list, like that of Illic-Svityc, is more to the point. Ruhlen's list contains meanings such as 'man, male, father, boy; a phallic deity; herdsman...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 81-84
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.