5 6 7 8 9 Displaying 43-49 of 91 Articles

I am a lazy but honest man, so I have to admit my first thought when looking at the The Language Wars by Henry Hitchings was not so noble. Noting the lengthiness (300+ pages) and a small font size, I thought, "Uh oh. Why did I agree to review this? I could be watching Justified." As I plowed into the book, my fears turned out to be unwarranted. In fact, my fears turned out to be ridiculous, as fears tend to be.  Continue reading...

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One of the happiest occasions in dictionary and word-nerd history occurred recently when the Dictionary of American Regional English — a project five decades in the making — published its final volume. This historical dictionary of words and phrases that do not ring out from sea to shining sea is one of the most ambitious works of lexicography ever. To call it a wealth of lexical riches would be the understatement of the eon. It is a whoopensocker ("Something extraordinary of its kind").  Continue reading...
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In his new book The Story of English in 100 Words, the absurdly prolific David Crystal provides a unique answer to a question he poses: "How can we tell the story of the English language?"  Continue reading...
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I can't get through a column without citing Green's Dictionary of Slang. This biggest-ever slang dictionary, edited by Jonathon Green and published last year, is my favorite book. Here's a bevy of dodges, evasions, and ludicrous turns of phrase I learned through Green's. They are a type of poetry: a poetry of poppycock.  Continue reading...
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Richard Bailey's Speaking American is one of those books I wish I could make every prescriptivist grouch in the world read. You know the type: the kind of misinformed peever who kvetches about "kids these days" and the language going to hell while yearning to preserve English, as if it were a precious vase a teenage texter might knock over while planking, shattering it forever and leaving us all mute.  Continue reading...
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Before pushing on with this month's batch of old and new euphemisms, I'd feel remiss if I didn't give my take on job creator, which the American Dialect Society voted 2011's Most Euphemistic term of the year.  Continue reading...
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My friend Laura knows four languages plus "bits and pieces" of six others. That's impressive, but it's not quite in the same league as folks who pick up languages the way George Clooney picks up starlets: with frightening ease. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot written, in academic or popular literature, on hyperpolyglots: people who know not just two or three languages, but six or ten or twenty.  Continue reading...
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5 6 7 8 9 Displaying 43-49 of 91 Articles