Word by Word

The Secret Life of Dictionaries

Author: Kory Stamper

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 1101870958

Category: Reference

Page: 336

View: 9789

“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: 5523

"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"--

The Secret Lives of Words

Author: Paul West

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

ISBN: N.A

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 296

View: 5031

This fascinating new study reveals the amazing and bizarre histories of language's building blocks and chronicles the etymologies of dozens of common words whose original meaning has been obscured through the passage of time.

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: 2302

"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.

Dictionary Stories

Short Fictions and Other Findings

Author: Jez Burrows

Publisher: HarperCollins

ISBN: 0062652621

Category: Fiction

Page: 256

View: 1293

"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 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: 5616

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.

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: 728

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 Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

Author: Peter Gilliver

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0191009687

Category: History

Page: 688

View: 7744

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.

Lean In

Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Publisher: Knopf

ISBN: 0385349955

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 240

View: 2886

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto. In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.” She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home. Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can. This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.

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: 9473

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.

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: 3612

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.

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

A Novel

Author: Jackie Copleton

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 0698407326

Category: Fiction

Page: 304

View: 4210

In the tradition of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Piano Teacher, a heart-wrenching debut novel of family, forgiveness, and the exquisite pain of love When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?

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: 9125

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.

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Author: Mary Norris

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0393246604

Category: Reference

Page: 240

View: 6022

"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 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: 9791

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.

The Word Exchange

A Novel

Author: Alena Graedon

Publisher: Anchor

ISBN: 0385537662

Category: Fiction

Page: 384

View: 8786

A dystopian novel for the digital age, The Word Exchange offers an inventive, suspenseful, and decidedly original vision of the dangers of technology and of the enduring power of the printed word. In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted “death of print” has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are things of the past, and we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but also have become so intuitive that they hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange. Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the last edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used email (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate—or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he devised to signal if he ever fell into harm’s way. And thus begins Anana’s journey down the proverbial rabbit hole . . . Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague, Anana’s search for Doug will take her into dark basements and subterranean passageways; the stacks and reading rooms of the Mercantile Library; and secret meetings of the underground resistance, the Diachronic Society. As Anana penetrates the mystery of her father’s disappearance and a pandemic of decaying language called “word flu” spreads, The Word Exchange becomes a cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a meditation on the high cultural costs of digital technology. From the Hardcover edition.

The Great Dictionary Caper

Author: Judy Sierra

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1481480057

Category: Juvenile Fiction

Page: 32

View: 7609

“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?

Family Words

The Dictionary for People Who Don't Know a Frone from a Brinkle

Author: Paul Dickson

Publisher: Broadcast Interview Source, Inc

ISBN: 9780934333375

Category: Humor

Page: 172

View: 8635

Remember the time when a relative coined a new word at a family occasion or under some unusual circumstance? Such expressions are passed down across generations, enriching the lore and joy of family life. Paul Dickson has amassed 750 of these words from families all over the country to compile this delightful, one-of-a-kind dictionary.

Sleeping with the Dictionary

Author: Harryette Mullen

Publisher: Univ of California Press

ISBN: 0520927834

Category: Poetry

Page: 85

View: 6220

Harryette Mullen's fifth poetry collection, Sleeping with the Dictionary, is the abecedarian offspring of her collaboration with two of the poet's most seductive writing partners, Roget's Thesaurus and The American Heritage Dictionary. In her ménage à trois with these faithful companions, the poet is aware that while Roget seems obsessed with categories and hierarchies, the American Heritage, whatever its faults, was compiled with the assistance of a democratic usage panel that included black poets Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, as well as feminist author and editor Gloria Steinem. With its arbitrary yet determinant alphabetical arrangement, its gleeful pursuit of the ludic pleasure of word games (acrostic, anagram, homophone, parody, pun), as well as its reflections on the politics of language and dialect, Mullen's work is serious play. A number of the poems are inspired or influenced by a technique of the international literary avant-garde group Oulipo, a dictionary game called S+7 or N+7. This method of textual transformation--which is used to compose nonsensical travesties reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"--also creates a kind of automatic poetic discourse. Mullen's parodies reconceive the African American's relation to the English language and Anglophone writing, through textual reproduction, recombining the genetic structure of texts from the Shakespearean sonnet and the fairy tale to airline safety instructions and unsolicited mail. The poet admits to being "licked all over by the English tongue," and the title of this book may remind readers that an intimate partner who also gives language lessons is called, euphemistically, a "pillow dictionary."