Today I went back to the dictionaries. There are few things as mentally stimulating as going through the Dictionary of the Scots Language, the Dictionary of the Welsh Language, and two etymological dictionaries, one for modern German and the other an Old English-German dictionary, and finding what you are looking for. And there are few things as intellectually satisfying as finding that your German, while rusty, can still puzzle out that ‘elf’ comes from Middle Low German, from Middle High German, from Old Icelandic, from Latin, and to find that the German dictionary supports your thesis by saying that elves were rather dangerous, that the idea of graceful, friendly elves comes from the Romantics…

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