2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 179 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...


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...

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...

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...

When word nerdom and sci-fi nerdom collide, what do you get? A dictionary-bot that recites definitions while performing the duties of a butler? Someday, I hope that's true. For now, the answer is From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages: a thorough look at invented languages (also known as conlangs, short for constructed languages) from sci-fi and elsewhere.  Continue reading...


Yesterday, October 16, was National Dictionary Day, celebrated annually on the birthday of the great American lexicographer Noah Webster. Today the "Webster" name is practically synonymous with dictionaries, but how did the first "Webster's Dictionary" come to be? In this excerpt from The Forgotten Founding Father, Joshua Kendall recounts the publication of Webster's Compendious Dictionary in 1806, the first dictionary to bear his name and the first to feature his "American" spelling.  Continue reading...

Earlier this week we featured an excerpt from Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis, an entertaining look at the world of competitive Scrabble, now published in a tenth anniversary edition with a special afterword on the latest Scrabble developments. Here we present another excerpt from the afterword, about the raging debates over what words to include in the official Scrabble dictionary.  Continue reading...

2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 179 Articles