"Etymologies are either obvious or wrong"

Ronald E.Emmerick emmerick at UNI-HAMBURG.DE
Wed Jan 5 12:22:54 UTC 2000

"Etymologies are either obvious or wrong". This is a saying I first
heard from my former teacher in Cambridge, the late Sir Harold Bailey,
who also knew its source. I made a note of it but cannot find it. I
thought it was an American linguist but I am not sure. It has been
suggested it may be Meillet, but no one has so far been able to give me
chapter and verse. It is not in the OED.

Prof. Dr. Ronald E. Emmerick
Hamburg University

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