English guides to etymology from Skeat to Durkin

John Considine


This paper examines six guides to the etymology of English, written for nonspecialist readers between 1887 and 2009. Four are by etymological lexicographers (two by W. W. Skeat and one each by Anatoly Liberman and Philip Durkin) and two by philologists with strong etymological interests (A. S. C. Ross and W. B. Lockwood). The paper seeks to present their contents, to compare them with each other, and to contextualize them both in the internal history and in the social history of scholarship.

Słowa kluczowe: etymology, non-specialist guide, English, history of linguistics

Aarsleff, Hans. 1967/1983. The study of language in England 1780-1860. Ed. 2.
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Allibone, S. A. 1859-1871. A critical dictionary of English literature and of
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Ayer, A. J. 1936/1990. Language, truth, and logic. London: Penguin.

Baldinger, Kurt. 1959. L’étymologie hier et aujourd’hui: Communication au Xe Congrès de l’Association, le 23 juillet 1958. Cahiers de l’Association Internationale des Études Françaises 11: 233-264. [Also in Schmitt 1975, 213-246.]

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Brugmann, Karl. 1886. Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen, Bd. 1: Einleitung und Lautlehre. Strasburg: Karl J. Trübner.

Burchfield, R. W. 1960. Review of Origins, by Eric Partridge. Review of English Studies new ser. 11, no. 42: 228-230.

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Considine, John. 2009a. Stephen Skinner’s Etymologicon and other English etymological dictionaries 1650-1700. SEC 14: 123-151.

———. 2009b. ‘Les voyelles ne font rien, et les consonnes fort peu de chose’: On the history of Voltaire’s supposed comment on etymology. Historiographia linguistica 36.1: 181-189.

Liberman, Anatoly. 1998a. An annotated survey of English etymological dictionaries and glossaries. Dictionaries 19: 21-96.

———. 1998b. What can we expect from a new dictionary of English etymology? In: Actes EURALEX ’98 proceedings, ed. Thierry Fontenelle et al., 459-465. Liège: Université de Liège, Département d’anglais et de néerlandais.

———. 2005. Word origins … and how we know them: Etymology for everyone. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

———. 2008. An analytic dictionary of English etymology: An introduction. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

———. 2009. A bibliography of English etymology: Sources and word list. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Malkiel, Yakov. 1962/1975. Etymology and general linguistics. In: Schmitt 1975, 347-376.

———. 1993. Etymology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Micklethwait, David. 2000. Noah Webster and the American dictionary. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Mugglestone, Lynda. 1998. Review of Lockwood 1995. Review of English Studies new ser. 49, no. 194: 196-197.

Partridge, Eric. 1960. A charm of words. London: Hamish Hamilton.

———. 1961. Adventuring among words. London: Andre Deutsch.

———. 1963. The gentle art of lexicography, as pursued and experienced by an addict. London: Andre Deutsch.

Peile, John. 1869. An introduction to Greek and Latin etymology. London and Cambridge: Macmillan.

Philippi, Rodulfo A. 1873. La isla de Pascua i sus habitantes. Anales de la Universidad de Chile 43: 365-434.

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Roberts, W. 1888. Life on a guinea a week. The Nineteenth Century 23: 464- 467.

Ross, A. S. C. 1958. Etymology, with especial reference to English. London: Andre Deutsch.

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Schmitt, Rüdiger, ed. 1975. Etymologie. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Scott, Charles P. G. 1882. On initial p in Gothic and Anglo-Saxon. Transactions of the American Philological Association 13 (Appendix): XLIV-L.

Skeat, W. W. 1871. Hand-list of some cognate words in English, Latin, and Greek, with reference to the pages in Curtius’s “Grundzüge der griechischen Etymologie” (third edition), in which their etymologies are discussed. London and New York: Macmillan.

———. 1879-1882. An etymological dictionary of the English language. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

———. 1887. Principles of English etymology, first series: The native element. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

———. 1891. Principles of English etymology, second series: The foreign element. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Skinner, Stephen. 1671. Etymologicon linguae anglicanae, seu explicatio vocum anglicarum etymologica ex propriis fontibus. London: typis T[homae] Roycroft, et prostant venales apud H[enricum] Brome [et al.].

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Sweet, Henry. Review of Skeat 1879-1882, part 1: A–Dor. The Academy (12 July): 34-35.

Szemerényi, Oswald. 1962/1975. Principles of etymological research in the Indo-European languages. In: Schmitt 1975, 286-346.

Zupitza, Julius. 1883. English etymology in 1881 and 1882. Transactions of the Cambridge Philological Society 2 (for 1881 and 1882): 243-259.

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