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An ax(e) to grind

That words travel from land to land is no secret. I do not only mean the trivial borrowings of the type known so well from the history of English. For instance, more than a thousand years ago, the
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That words travel from land to land is no secret. I do not only mean the trivial borrowings of the type known so well from the history of English. For instance, more than a thousand years ago, the Vikings settled in most of Britain, and therefore English is full of Scandinavian words. Some time later, the French conquered the country, and, as a result, two thirds or so of the words one finds in Webster’s dictionary are of French origin. Cultural cross-currents are equally obvious: the language of music is full of Italian terms, and the language of art testifies to the influence of French and Italian on English. All this is trivial information. It is much harder to trace the history of migratory words, for instance such as denote the names of tools. A case in point is the origin of the word ax (or, if you prefer the British spelling of it, then axe: an extra letter at the end of a word never hurts). A stone ax. This is how the migration of the thing and the word began. All the Old. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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