[Ads-l] "Oxford secret" origin?

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Aug 21 11:34:55 UTC 2019

 An article on the discovery of papyrus fragments of poetry by Sappho in the Feb. 5, 2014 TLS by Dirk Obbink begins as follows:
"An 'Oxford secret' is supposed to be a secret you tell one person at a time. Add social media and it's across the world within hours, often in garbled form. In this case the 'secret' was the discovery of a fragment of papyrus...."
The Sappho discovery is real but the provenance is less clear. I wondered about the origin of the collocation "Oxford secret."
Provisionally, it *may* have been coined, or popularized, by Oliver Franks (1905-1992), Oxford philosopher, and Secretary of Supply during WWII, and Ambassador to the US, and diplomat involved in birth of the Marshall Plan, and also of NATO,** among other things. Remarkable man.

Stephen Goranson
**My Dad (in the USN) was assigned as an assistant to Averell Harriman at the time.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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