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Dwarves, Pimps, and Galoots, or Chance, Luck, and Serendipity in an Etymologist's Work
Anatoly Liberman
96-103 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Despite all the achievements of the comparative method, etymology remains a blend of science and art. Familiarity with sound correspondences and the laws of semantic development is a prerequisite for an etymologist's successful work, but every now and then a convincing solution comes from a source not directly connected with the immediate subject of investigation. An association from a language remote from the language under discussion, a remark dropped in a book that is otherwise quite useless, and so forth, may suggest ideas that would otherwise have not occured to the researcher. The paper gives examples of such unpredictable and partly unpredictable finds that led to the discovery of the origin of the English words dwarf, pimp, galoot, fog, and a few others from Slavic and Scandinavian.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 2008 Symposium on New Approaches in English Historical Lexis (HEL-LEX 2)
edited by R. W. McConchie, Alpo Honkapohja, and Jukka Tyrkkö
Table of contents
Printed edition: $220.00