an antedating "how to"?

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed May 21 12:51:13 UTC 2014

Thanks for the question Beth. Though I don't know a good how-to guide, I do think there are options for teaching antedating attempts as an heuristic exercise.
One might be for you to make a list a several words for whose etymology there is no consensus (e.g., OED advanced search, origin: doubtful lost unknown uncertain obscure unascertained undetermined etc.). Not rare words; OED first dates from, say, 1800 to 1923 (more text is searchable). Let them think it over, check into it for some days, then vote for the most interesting word for all to pursue.
An antedating would be a plus, but, even without, everyone gathering data and evaluating proposals might be a learning experience.

Stephen Goranson

PS. Years ago I taught classes on Dead Sea Scrolls, and we
explored the many proposed etymologies for "Essenes."

The American Dialect Society -

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