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If you enjoyed Michael Adams' Slang: The People's Poetry, make some room on your shelf for another compelling look at slangology: The Life of Slang by Julie Coleman. Coleman's book is an enjoyable, thorough look at the purposes and particulars of slang that should be required reading, especially for newcomers to the topic. This is a textbook textbook on slang.  Continue reading...

Mark Peters reviews The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs: "When you talk about proverbs, it's hard not to add the adjective old: we tend to think of proverbs as remnants of the bygone days of yore, not the present days of non-yore."  Continue reading...

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...


2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 181 Articles