These eight essays are a perfect way into learning about how a writer who started at the lowest rung at Time magazine in the 1950s developed to become the author associated with a body of nonfiction that is unparalleled in modern American letters for its breadth and depth.  Continue reading...

Anyone interested in literature or becoming a better writer will find something to like here: Blatt doesn't just shine a light on writing, he lets in a whole new area of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Continue reading...

Lexicography is famously considered an art and science, but Kory Stamper thinks of it as a craft, a term implying "care, repetitive work, apprenticeship, and practice." Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries is a wonderful firsthand account of a lexicographical craftsperson who is master of another craft: writing. Few books about words—or anything else—are this well-written.  Continue reading...

Just as the OED will never be finished documenting the English language, there's always more to tell about the OED itself. So the latest addition to the historical record of our greatest historical dictionary—The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by lexicographer Peter Gilliver—is most welcome.  Continue reading...

Thanks to numerous anecdotes about the old and new ways of the lexicography, I quite enjoyed The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of it All at the Oxford English Dictionary, the memoir of John Simpson, former Chief Editor. Simpson was a participant and prime mover in the huge changes to the OED, which saw the dictionary finally being produced, "from the computer database, not from copper plates." Because of the unique insights into the most important and impressive dictionary in English, this is a book any word lover should enjoy.  Continue reading...

As we look back at the language of the recent election, it's hard not to feel like political language has fallen into the sewer, and plummeted from there into a lower sewer, and might be still falling.  Continue reading...

It's mind-boggling that many people who profess to love language have bizarre, backwards ideas about it based on superstition and hokum. Educated folks who mock evolution-deniers have no problem believing equally unsupported ideas about language—such as "English is worse than ever!" and "Words shouldn't change!"  Continue reading...

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