Category Archives: Poetry

Ted Cruz is no Scyld Scefing

I’ve read Beowulf. Beowulf was a friend of mine. And Senator… You know, when things sound stupid, they very usually are. And this headline sounds stupid: Ted Cruz as Beowulf: Matching Candidates With the Books They Sound Like [- The Upshot (New York Times Data Blog – click to view article)] No one who has […]

Ars longa, vita brevis

The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne, Th’assay so hard, so sharp the conqueringe, The dredful joye alwey that slit so yerne, Al this mene I by love, that my felynge Astonyeth with his wonderful werkynge So sore y-wis, that whan I on him thinke, Nat woot I wel wher that I […]

Two Notes on T. S. Eliot and the OED

I have two upcoming notes in the journal Notes & Queries concerning T. S. Eliot and the Oxford English Dictionary. Though they won’t be published until later next year, the self-archiving policy at Oxford Journals allows me to make an unrevised pre-print version available here. The two articles are: “The ‘Oxford Dictionary’ in T. S. […]

Interview with Paul Muldoon

Here are some excerpts from an interview I did with Paul Muldoon a couple of years ago, which focused on dictionaries and etymology. A full .pdf version of the interview can be downloaded here: [Interview with Paul Muldoon]. PM: I’ve never really been into the OED Online. Maybe I should. I think I might even […]

Big boost for The Life of Words

This news just released: The Life of Words is getting a major boost, in the form of a $150,00 grant from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, UWaterloo, and St Jerome’s University, to fund my research on poetry and the Oxford English Dictionary. The Early Researcher Award provides $100,000 in funding from the Ministry […]

Method as Tautology

Although it has been available for a while in the advanced access section of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, and before that Literary and Linguistic Computing, my article on digital methods in literary research has recently been published in its final version. The full bibliographic details are: Williams, David-Antoine. “Method as Tautology in the Digital […]

Thermo Pairs, a kind of poem

Latest in the “kind of poem” series [see here and here], this one based on false positives that turned up in my list of invented lexical combinations in James Joyce [“Compounding Joyce“].

Compounding Joyce

LOW on demand! This afternoon the Twitter threw up this query, following on from my last post on cutthroat compounds [Catchall for Cutthroats]: Well, here at The Life of Words, we aim to please. Since I’ve been mucking around with Python scripts to get at OED’s combinational formations (those bits typically at the end of […]

Catchall for cutthroats

What is the difference between a catch-all and a catch-phrase? Both are compounds formed as Verb+Noun, but in catch-all, the noun is the direct object of the verb, whereas in catch-phrase it is the subject. That is, a catch-all is something that catches all things, whereas a catch-phrase is not something that catches phrases – […]

Published: “Geoffrey Hill’s Etymological Crux”

I’m happy to say that Modern Philology has just published a longish article of mine on etymology in Geoffrey Hill’s work, called “All corruptible things: Geoffrey Hill’s Etymological Crux.” A self-archived copy of the article may be downloaded by clicking here. [Note that a revised version of this article appears in my 2020 monograph, The […]