what ox, which ford, and what’s a university anyway?

herman announces:

morning all, i’m as you know herman newt poking about in the medieval mire looking for scraps of history, and in my perambulations mysterious and deep i find myself up against the mysterious and deep mythology surrounding the famed name of oxford and not a whit the less of university, so i thought at once of my dear friend, etty moliji.  i find her in a sunny meadow on a mild may morning surrounded by a circle of admiring students and i arrange  my gills tidily over my shoulders and i raise my nice amphibian hand and i ask my questions most respectfully, as a good newt should.

herman boldly enquires:

where is the ox ford after which oxford is named, and who first called a university a university?

etty replies:

oxford is og’s fort, not oxen ford. og=egg. they were birds (confused nowadays with bards) and that was a kenning.

university is from iona/juno/ionia/jonah/jonas dion etc+gwersi+ty. no one was ever inventive enough to think up ‘one turning’ as a good thing to call an educational institution – imo! i could be wrong. maybe someone did and everyone just sooooo agreeeeeed with him/her because of the powerful force on their imagination of that glorious metaphor, but no, i think it meant gwersi/verses, and that meant rote-learnt chanted verses, and specified those of the joneses and not those of say the cailleach/colaiste/colleges.

keith, an earnest pupil, protests:

but ms moliji, is wikipedia so lost in its sin? why would it misinform us while referring us to academic resources?

wikipedia says

from wikipedia

common sense etymologist

word doctor

etty persists, gently but firmly, choosing her words with care:

ahem, yes. the ford for oxen. that seems to be current textbook opinion. well, i can’t say i’ve ever successfully pinned this one down, but here are my thoughts so far. the university of oxford is in oxford and oxford is in oxfordshire. now i’m not saying that anyone knows the origin of any of it – there’s nothing older than the old texts – and i’ve never seen anyone verify, in any way you could call academic, the folk tradition that it is named for a river crossing for oxen.

i find it unlikely that they would have named a whole shire after a famed city named after a river crossing so primitive it hasn’t even got a bridge and then put a university there. if you are establishing something so proud and elevated as a university you’re not going to name it after a particularly polluted and obstructed part of the local landscape relevant only to labourers, carters and other low types.

so i take leave of the textbook models which are still writhing in the grip of false bible-distorted chronologies and the cultural neurosis around sacred texts and the myth of the antiquity of the potted-into-paradigms ‘school’ languages such as latin and greek, and long overdue for an update, let alone lawkes a’mighty an up-hahaha-grade, heheheheh, because of course it’s so hard to get funding for anything that might threaten the credibility of the establishment with its investment in the magical events of the noughtth of nought noughteen noughty nought, which is of course the start of everything sort of. prolly adds up to 42 but i ran out of fingers and toes.

and yes, belinda, you do still get flamed and sometimes cruelly, for heresy/errorsie/errors, though there’s a sea-change in view as post-modernism unpacks the politics of academic discourse and makes us all behave. but like i said, you’re always treading on someone’s corn – ovia (oops, cor/kor/kernowvia)  wherever you go and there are sore points everywhere…

like i said, the etymologies have never been done. the plethora is unplundered. the richest, plushest, preciousest treasures of the english speaking world are buried undiscovered beneath the screen memory scab of the glorious biblical glossages of the renaissance, restoration and general rehash since the introduction of the gregorian calendar. (i allow myself the occasional coinage.)

nb (re above parag) notice the astounding spirit of eloquence that seizes me when i draw nigh to ogma. i recite anything you like, backwards or forwards, or boustrophodon and no one has to ask what is in that bou/bull’s troph.  i chant lists of lists of lists off by heart, all the way to ninthly, and tenthly and beyond. my captive audience is spellbound as if by the golden chains of my dogma – aye by the dogma of ogma.

i believe we learn more from a different kind of analysis, dealing in syllables as if they were whole words each with its own meaning, conscious of the limitations of the so-called ‘corpus etymology’ of the old comparative philologists and looking not so much for adam and god in the garden as for the bitchy snitchy sprangly, wrangly racist pious elevated debased degraded lah-di-dah, lithping, putting-on-the-dawg medieval patois/padua/pathways, focusing on english forms of it, since it seems to have been spoken in various local forms worldwide..

even aotaroa is water-rower in the patois. same words, different accent. and yeah, they sure were water rowers.

i should have added scholarly to that list of adjectives and even still ‘noble’ enough to be potted up for chanting in class.

og is irish for young. it occurs in words like dogma, pedagogy, ology. (i disagree with greek origins for these words, maintaining that they, like england, got them from their local patois, the forms being diverse but often still recognisable. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE BELIEF IN THE ANTIQUITY OF ‘ANCIENT’ ‘GREEK’. they appear to me to be medieval.)

og/ag/ug/ig/og all have been ways of pronouncing it. the g can become a v or f or bh or y or i. it can pick up remnants of old articles, t-og, d-og, thug, yog, sieg, zieg, hag, hog, higgs, hug, hugh, or from the invading normans/romans, l’og,  lag, leg, lugh, etc – all are possible, some are probable, but i have a different derivation for lugh and haven’t finished comparing it with this one. then any of these might pick up remnants of old plurals such as ogre = og+array agnes/agonies oglaigh, oygle, aggle, hagel, hagan, hogan, and blimey, blokes, we’re all over the map of europe again and bá í craic í if it ain’t the court of the crimthann king.  yep the kremhild/cream guild that lugh invited in to teach the irish dairying and the making of butter and cheese.

si-(e)g seems to have been fried.

and this is what i see emerging from the mythtth. it all fits/fitz/feats. this has been fit/feat/fight the severalth.

herman winds up:

well, that was etty on the subject.

i’ll now go and see if i can waggle up some wireless and i’ll try and post it to you all.

slán