Hunting the hapax: Sir Harold W. Bailey (1899–1996)<sup>*</sup>

Ronald E. Emmerick

in Indo-Iranian Languages and Peoples

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780197262856
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191753961 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Hunting the hapax: Sir Harold W. Bailey (1899–1996)*

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This chapter presents a speech that details the life and career of Harold Walter Bailey. It also addresses the question of whether he himself coined the phrase ‘hunting the hapax’. Bailey was very fond of hapaxes and he collected them not in order to do away with them but to try to account for them as what he would call ‘interesting words’. This approach has of course some justification when one is dealing with a language that is no longer spoken and that is known only as a result of studying a limited text corpus. In fact, however, Bailey's Dictionary of Khotan Saka contains hapaxes on almost every page, many of which will not survive the test of time—even though Bailey has been at great pains to defend them.

Keywords: Harold Walter Bailey; hapaxes; languages; Dictionary of Khotan Saka; interesting words

Chapter.  7700 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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