Word by Word

The Secret Life of Dictionaries

Author: Kory Stamper

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 1101870958

Category: Reference

Page: 336

View: 7390

“We think of English as a fortress to be defended, but a better analogy is to think of English as a child. We love and nurture it into being, and once it gains gross motor skills, it starts going exactly where we don’t want it to go: it heads right for the goddamned electrical sockets.” With wit and irreverence, lexicographer Kory Stamper cracks open the obsessive world of dictionary writing, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it to the knotty questions of ever-changing word usage. Filled with fun facts—for example, the first documented usage of “OMG” was in a letter to Winston Churchill—and Stamper’s own stories from the linguistic front lines (including how she became America’s foremost “irregardless” apologist, despite loathing the word), Word by Word is an endlessly entertaining look at the wonderful complexities and eccentricities of the English language.

Word by Word

The Secret Life of Dictionaries

Author: Kory Stamper

Publisher: Pantheon

ISBN: 110187094X

Category: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Page: 296

View: 3826

"Brimming with intelligence and personality, a vastly entertaining account of how dictionaries are made - a must read for word mavens. Have you ever tried to define the word "is?" Do you have strong feelings about the word (and, yes, it is a word) "irregardless?" Did you know that OMG was first used in 1917, in a letter to Winston Churchill? These are the questions that keep lexicographers up at night. While most of us might take dictionaries for granted, the process of writing dictionaries is in fact as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what and how to define, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why the small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. Throughout Stamper brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a surprisingly rich world inhabited by quirky and erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. A sure delight for all lovers of words, Harmless Drudges will also improve readers' grasp and use of the English language"--

Lost for Words

The Hidden History of the Oxford English Dictionary

Author: Lynda Mugglestone

Publisher: Yale University Press

ISBN: 9780300106992

Category: History

Page: 273

View: 5975

Examines the hidden history through which the Oxford English Dictionary came into being in a study that traces the personal battles involved in chronicling an ever-changing language.

Dictionary Stories

Short Fictions and Other Findings

Author: Jez Burrows

Publisher: HarperCollins

ISBN: 0062652621

Category: Fiction

Page: 256

View: 6771

"Dictionary Stories isn’t just a book for word nerds, but for anyone for whom language and story matter. Everybody will find themselves thoroughly in love with this book." —Kory Stamper, editor for Merriam-Webster, and author of Word by Word Jez Burrows opened the New Oxford American Dictionary and sat, mystified. Instead of the definition of "study" he was looking for, he found himself drawn to the strangely conspicuous, curiously melodramatic sentence that followed it: "He perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery." It read like a tiny piece of fiction on the lam and hiding out in the dictionary—and it wasn’t alone. Was it possible to reunite these fugitive fictions? To combine and remix example sentences to form new works? With this spark and a handful of stories shared online, Dictionary Stories was born. This genre-bending and wildly inventive collection glows with humor, emotion, and intellect. Effortlessly transcending sentence level, Burrows lights between the profound and the absurd, transporting readers into moments, worlds, and experiences of remarkable variety. Featuring original illustrations by the author, Dictionary Stories is a giddy celebration of the beauty and flexibility of language.

The Word Detective

Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary

Author: John Simpson

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 0465096522

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 384

View: 1505

"A charmingly full, frank, and humorous account of a career dedicated to rigorous lexicographic rectitude. . . .[John Simpson] is an absolute hero." --Lynne Truss, New York Times Can you drink a glass of balderdash? And what do you call the part of a dog's back it can't scratch? The answers to these questions can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary. There is no better guide to the dictionary's many wonderments than its former chief editor, John Simpson. In The Word Detective, an intensely personal memoir and a joyful celebration of English, he weaves a story of how words come into being, how culture shapes language, and how technology transforms words. A brilliant and deeply humane expedition through the world of words, The Word Detective will delight and inspire any lover of language.

Defining the World

The Extraordinary Story of Dr Johnson's Dictionary

Author: Henry Hitchings

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 9781429928946

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 304

View: 2732

By the early eighteenth century, France and Italy had impressive lexicons, but there was no authoritative dictionary of English. Sensing the deficit, and impelled by a mixture of national pride and commercial expedience, the prodigious polymath Samuel Johnson embraced the task, turning over the garret of his London home to the creation of his own giant dictionary. Johnson imagined that he could complete the job in three years. But the complexity of English meant that his estimate was wildly inadequate. Only after he had expended nearly a decade of his prime on the task did the dictionary finally appear - magisterial yet quirky, dogmatic but generous of spirit, and steeped in the richness of English literature. It would come to be seen as the most important British cultural monument of the eighteenth century, and its influence fanned out across Europe and throughout Britain's colonies - including, crucially, America. Brilliantly entertaining and enlightening, Defining the World is the story of Johnson's heroic endeavor, 250 years after the first publication of the Dictionary. In alphabetically sequenced chapters, Henry Hitchings describes Johnson's adventure - his ambition and vision, his moments of despair, the mistakes he made along the way, and his ultimate triumph.

The Lexicographer's Dilemma

The Evolution of 'Proper' English, from Shakespeare to South Park

Author: Jack Lynch

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA

ISBN: 0802719635

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 336

View: 2100

In its long history, the English language has had many lawmakers--those who have tried to regulate or otherwise organize the way we speak. Proper Words in Proper Places offers the first narrative history of these endeavors and shows clearly that what we now regard as the only "correct" way to speak emerged out of specific historical and social conditions over the course of centuries. As historian Jack Lynch has discovered, every rule has a human history and the characters peopling his narrative are as interesting for their obsession as for their erudition: the sharp-tongued satirist Jonathan Swift, who called for a government-sponsored academy to issue rulings on the language; the polymath Samuel Johnson, who put dictionaries on a new footing; the eccentric Hebraist Robert Lowth, the first modern to understand the workings of biblical poetry; the crackpot linguist John Horne Tooke, whose bizarre theories continue to baffle scholars; the chemist and theologian Joseph Priestly, whose political radicalism prompted violent riots; the ever-crotchety Noah Webster, who worked to Americanize the English language; the long-bearded lexicographer James A. H. Murray, who devoted his life to a survey of the entire language in the Oxford English Dictionary; and the playwright George Bernard Shaw, who worked without success to make English spelling rational. Grammatical "rules" or "laws" are not like the law of gravity, or even laws against murder and theft--they're more like rules of etiquette, made by fallible people and subject to change. Witty, smart, full of passion for the world's language, Proper Words in Proper Places will entertain and educate in equal measure.

Words on the Move

Why English Won't - and Can't - Sit Still (Like, Literally)

Author: John McWhorter

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

ISBN: 1627794735

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 288

View: 8949

A bestselling linguist takes us on a lively tour of how the English language is evolving before our eyes -- and why we should embrace this transformation and not fight it Language is always changing -- but we tend not to like it. We understand that new words must be created for new things, but the way English is spoken today rubs many of us the wrong way. Whether it’s the use of literally to mean “figuratively” rather than “by the letter,” or the way young people use LOL and like, or business jargon like What’s the ask? -- it often seems as if the language is deteriorating before our eyes. But the truth is different and a lot less scary, as John McWhorter shows in this delightful and eye-opening exploration of how English has always been in motion and continues to evolve today. Drawing examples from everyday life and employing a generous helping of humor, he shows that these shifts are a natural process common to all languages, and that we should embrace and appreciate these changes, not condemn them. Words on the Move opens our eyes to the surprising backstories to the words and expressions we use every day. Did you know that silly once meant “blessed”? Or that ought was the original past tense of owe? Or that the suffix -ly in adverbs is actually a remnant of the word like? And have you ever wondered why some people from New Orleans sound as if they come from Brooklyn? McWhorter encourages us to marvel at the dynamism and resilience of the English language, and his book offers a lively journey through which we discover that words are ever on the move and our lives are all the richer for it.

Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve

What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing

Author: Ben Blatt

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1501105388

Category: Humor

Page: 288

View: 4726

What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? How can we judge a book by its cover? Data meets literature in this playful and informative look at our favorite authors and their masterpieces. “A literary detective story: fast-paced, thought-provoking, and intriguing.” —Brian Christian, coauthor of Algorithms to Live By There’s a famous piece of writing advice—offered by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, and myriad writers in between—not to use -ly adverbs like “quickly” or “fitfully.” It sounds like solid advice, but can we actually test it? If we were to count all the -ly adverbs these authors used in their careers, do they follow their own advice compared to other celebrated authors? What’s more, do great books in general—the classics and the bestsellers—share this trait? In Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, statistician and journalist Ben Blatt brings big data to the literary canon, exploring the wealth of fun findings that remain hidden in the works of the world’s greatest writers. He assembles a database of thousands of books and hundreds of millions of words, and starts asking the questions that have intrigued curious word nerds and book lovers for generations: What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write differently? Are bestsellers getting dumber over time? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? What makes a great opening sentence? How can we judge a book by its cover? And which writerly advice is worth following or ignoring? Blatt draws upon existing analysis techniques and invents some of his own. All of his investigations and experiments are original, conducted himself, and no math knowledge is needed to understand the results. Blatt breaks his findings down into lucid, humorous language and clear and compelling visuals. This eye-opening book will provide you with a new appreciation for your favorite authors and a fresh perspective on your own writing, illuminating both the patterns that hold great prose together and the brilliant flourishes that make it unforgettable.

The Story of Ain't

America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published

Author: David Skinner

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 0062345753

Category: History

Page: 368

View: 2269

Created by the most respected American publisher of dictionaries and supervised by the editor Philip Gove, Webster's Third broke with tradition, adding thousands of new words and eliminating "artificial notions of correctness," basing proper usage on how language was actually spoken. The dictionary's revolutionary style sparked what David Foster Wallace called "the Fort Sumter of the Usage Wars." Editors and scholars howled for Gove's blood, calling him an enemy of clear thinking, a great relativist who was trying to sweep the English language into chaos. Critics bayed at the dictionary's permissive handling of ain't. Literary intellectuals such as Dwight Macdonald believed the dictionary's scientific approach to language and its abandonment of the old standard of usage represented the unraveling of civilization. Entertaining and erudite, The Story of Ain't describes a great societal metamorphosis, tracing the fallout of the world wars, the rise of an educated middle class, and the emergence of America as the undisputed leader of the free world, and illuminating how those forces shaped our language. Never before or since has a dictionary so embodied the cultural transformation of the United States.

The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

Author: Peter Gilliver

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0191009687

Category: History

Page: 688

View: 763

This book tells the history of the Oxford English Dictionary from its beginnings in the middle of the nineteenth century to the present. The author, uniquely among historians of the OED, is also a practising lexicographer with nearly thirty years' experience of working on the Dictionary He has drawn on a wide range of sources-including previously unexamined archival material and eyewitness testimony-to create a detailed history of the project. The book explores the cultural background from which the idea of a comprehensive historical dictionary of English emerged, the lengthy struggles to bring this concept to fruition, and the development of the book from the appearance of the first printed fascicle in 1884 to the launching of the Dictionary as an online database in 2000 and beyond. It also examines the evolution of the lexicographers' working methods, and provides much information about the people-many of them remarkable individuals-who have contributed to the project over the last century and a half.

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Author: Mary Norris

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0393246604

Category: Reference

Page: 240

View: 7866

"Hilarious…This book charmed my socks off." —Patricia O’Conner, New York Times Book Review Mary Norris has spent more than three decades working in The New Yorker’s renowned copy department, helping to maintain its celebrated high standards. In Between You & Me, she brings her vast experience with grammar and usage, her good cheer and irreverence, and her finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a boisterous language book as full of life as it is of practical advice. Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Amazon, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal.

The Secret Life of Words

How English Became English

Author: Henry Hitchings

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 9781429941570

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 448

View: 4119

Words are essential to our everyday lives. An average person spends his or her day enveloped in conversations, e-mails, phone calls, text messages, directions, headlines, and more. But how often do we stop to think about the origins of the words we use? Have you ever thought about which words in English have been borrowed from Arabic, Dutch, or Portuguese? Try admiral, landscape, and marmalade, just for starters. The Secret Life of Words is a wide-ranging account not only of the history of English language and vocabulary, but also of how words witness history, reflect social change, and remind us of our past. Henry Hitchings delves into the insatiable, ever-changing English language and reveals how and why it has absorbed words from more than 350 other languages—many originating from the most unlikely of places, such as shampoo from Hindi and kiosk from Turkish. From the Norman Conquest to the present day, Hitchings narrates the story of English as a living archive of our human experience. He uncovers the secrets behind everyday words and explores the surprising origins of our most commonplace expressions. The Secret Life of Words is a rich, lively celebration of the language and vocabulary that we too often take for granted.

The Great Dictionary Caper

Author: Judy Sierra

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1481480057

Category: Juvenile Fiction

Page: 32

View: 6982

“Teachers will have field day with this wordplay; this caper is clever, capricious, and cunning.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “Bored with sitting in a dictionary ‘day in, day out,’ the words make a break for it and organize a parade which…introduce linguistics terminology in just about the most playful way possible.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) “This is a charming, peppy introduction, enhanced by Comstock’s energetic, retro-flair illustrations, which fill the pages with cavorting words and creative details…In approach and format, this is both entertaining and educational—likely to hold and pique kids’ interest in the topic and provide a fun learning supplement.” —Booklist (starred review) When all of the words escape from the dictionary, it’s up to Noah Webster to restore alphabetical order in this supremely wacky picture book that celebrates language. Words have secret lives. On a quiet afternoon the words escape the dictionary (much to the consternation of Mr. Noah Webster) and flock to Hollywood for a huge annual event—Lexi-Con. Liberated from the pages, words get together with friends and relations in groups including an onomatopoeia marching band, the palindrome family reunion, and hide-and-seek antonyms. It’s all great fun until the words disagree and begin to fall apart. Can Noah Webster step in to restore order before the dictionary is disorganized forever?

The Meaning of Everything

The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

Author: Simon Winchester

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 9780192805768

Category: English language

Page: 260

View: 2548

Now available in paperback, The Meaning of Everything is the absorbing story behind the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Originally mooted in 1857, it would be another 71 years before the British prime minister could celebrate the completion of 'the greatest enterprise of its kind in history'. In this delightful account of the OED's creation, Winchester introduces us to a host of extraordinary characters: the murderer who contributed from his prison cell, the brilliant but tubercular first editor Herbert Coleridge (grandson of the poet), the boisterous Frederick Furnivall (who left the project in shambles) and James Murray, the self-taught draper's son who spent a half-century bringing the project to triumphant fruition. The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating and engaging account of the creation of the greatest monument ever erected to a living language.

A World Without "Whom"

The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age

Author: Emmy J. Favilla

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA

ISBN: 1632867591

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 400

View: 2724

A World Without "Whom" is Eats, Shoots & Leaves for the internet age, and BuzzFeed global copy chief Emmy Favilla is the witty go-to style guru of webspeak. As language evolves faster than ever before, what is the future of "correct" writing? When Favilla was tasked with creating a style guide for BuzzFeed, she opted for spelling, grammar, and punctuation guidelines that would reflect not only the site's lighthearted tone, but also how readers actually use language IRL. With wry cleverness and an uncanny intuition for the possibilities of internet-age expression, Favilla makes a case for breaking the rules laid out by Strunk and White: A world without "whom," she argues, is a world with more room for writing that's clear, timely, pleasurable, and politically aware. Featuring priceless emoji strings, sidebars, quizzes, and style debates among the most lovable word nerds in the digital media world--of which Favilla is queen--A World Without "Whom" is essential for readers and writers of virtually everything: news articles, blog posts, tweets, texts, emails, and whatever comes next . . . so basically everyone.

Lost in Translation

An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World

Author: Ella Frances Sanders

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

ISBN: 1607747111

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 112

View: 7986

An artistic collection of more than 50 drawings featuring unique, funny, and poignant foreign words that have no direct translation into English. Did you know that the Japanese language has a word to express the way sunlight filters through the leaves of trees? Or that there’s a Finnish word for the distance a reindeer can travel before needing to rest? Lost in Translation brings to life more than fifty words that don’t have direct English translations with charming illustrations of their tender, poignant, and humorous definitions. Often these words provide insight into the cultures they come from, such as the Brazilian Portuguese word for running your fingers through a lover’s hair, the Italian word for being moved to tears by a story, or the Swedish word for a third cup of coffee. In this clever and beautifully rendered exploration of the subtleties of communication, you’ll find new ways to express yourself while getting lost in the artistry of imperfect translation. From the Hardcover edition.

The World Factbook

Author: Central Intelligence Agency

Publisher: Masterlab

ISBN: 8379912136

Category: Reference

Page: 3100

View: 1485

The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities. The World Factbook is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency. Comprehensive guide full of facts, maps, flags, and detailed information. A must for travellers, businessmen, politicians, and all who wants to know more about our fascinating world. -- We share these facts with the people of all nations in the belief that knowledge of the truth underpins the functioning of free societies (From official webpage). Tags: world, guide, facts, almanach