Beth Tovey

Beth Tovey works for the Oxford English Dictionary.

Articles by Beth Tovey


From ‘gadzooks’ to ‘cowabunga’: some episodes in the life of the interjection

OMG

OMG, LOL! When the Oxford English Dictionary decided to include the interjections LOL and OMG as new words in 2011, it seemed as though the apocalypse had finally come. From the tone of so many newspaper commentaries and angry blogs reacting to the news, I might have expected to have seen a few senior editors […]

Edward Lear

Higher-cynths, lower-cynths, and Seeze Pyders: why Lear’s ‘nonsense’ language is more than just fun

If there were no other reason to remember Edward Lear with fondness (and there are, in fact, very many), his popularization of the limerick would be enough. Like so many children, I was always delighted to come across limericks. My favourite was about the young man of Nepal, who went to a fancy dress ball. […]

Hebrew influence on English

From cherub to jubilee: Hebrew’s influence on today’s English

If you’ve ever noshed on a bagel with your schnoz stuck in a schmaltzy novel, or schlepped to a party to schmooze with the mavens and machers, you know all about the influence of Yiddish on modern English. But what about Hebrew? Thanks to English translations of the Bible, Hebrew-derived words have been playing their […]

Welsh English is an interesting English dialect.

The beauty of Welsh English

To be born Welsh requires the genes of a chameleon. You must be a geographer (how many maps have I drawn to explain to anyone not from our little island the difference between “Britain” and “England”?), a musician (try singing “Bread of Heaven” in a Welsh pub: I give you two bars before you’re accompanied […]

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