The Word Detective – A must for every word nerd
So what’s The Word Detective about?
The Word Detective – A Life in Words from Serendipity to Selfie is a must read for any word nerd, quiz master, raconteur, or writer. It’s a book about the personal life and career of John Simpson, who was the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for nearly forty years. The book blends the life and career of Simpson with the discovery and re-defining of the words which line the pages of the definitive record of the English language, The Oxford English Dictionary (OED). It’s a fascinating read.
What is the origin of the word intrigue?
Who first wrote the word serendipity?
You will find the answers to these questions and hundreds of others here in this book. What I found most interesting was the evolution of old words. My favourite, Queen, is one which has many different meanings in modern language and would still be spelt Cwen, if it wasn’t for the Norman conquest.
Is The Word Detective for me?
Be warned this book will command your full attention. It is after all written by a word historian and fact-checker extraordinaire! The reward for your undivided attention will be a brain full of word history, ‘oooh’ moments, and no doubt a richer vocabulary.
A rare 5 stars. A gift for anyone who loves to find the origin of words, command an audience at a dinner party and hold an engaged crowd at a presentation.
Take the OED timeline challenge by clicking on the image below.
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The Book Jacket
Language is always changing. No one knows where it is going but the best way to future-cast is to look at the past. John Simpson animates for us a tradition of researching and editing, showing us both the technical lexicography needed to understand a word, and the careful poetry needed to construct its definition. He challenges both the idea that dictionaries are definitive, and the notion that language is falling apart.
With a sense of humour, an ability to laugh at bureaucracy and an inclination to question the status quo, John Simpson gives life to the colourful characters at the OED and to the English language itself. He splices his stories with entertaining and erudite diversions into the history and origin of words such as ‘kangaroo’, ‘hot-dog’, ‘pommie’, ‘bicycle’, not ignoring those swearwords often classed as ‘Anglo-Saxon’! The book will speak to anyone who uses a dictionary, ‘word people’, history lovers, students and parents.
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