Given that we’re all lovers of words, today I decided to share my review of a book that’s all about words and how they have evolved.
Words in Time and Place : Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford University Press
Did you know that the English language has over 150 words for the adjective ‘drunk’ developed over 1,000 years? Be prepared to learn words you have never heard before, find out fascinating facts behind everyday words, and be surprised at how lively and varied the English language can be.
Published to critical acclaim in 2009, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is the first comprehensive thesaurus in the world to arrange words by meaning in order of first recorded use. Using its unique perspective on how the English language has developed, Words in Time and Place takes 15 themes and explores the language in these areas over time – explaining when new words appeared, where they came from, and what such changes say about times in which they emerged. The themes chosen are varied, universal topics and show the semantic range of the thesaurus and what it can tell us about the words used in areas of everyday life. Learn about the different words for dying and money, or types of pop music, as well as words for a privy, oaths, and words for being drunk.
Written by the world’s leading expert on the English language, David Crystal, the book carries his trademark style of engaging yet authoritative writing. Each chapter features an introduction to the language of that topic, followed by a timeline of vocabulary taken from the historical thesaurus showing all the synonyms arranged in chronological order. The timelines are annotated with additional quotations, facts, and social and historical context to give a clear sense of how words entered the English language, when, and in which context they were used.
Words in Time and Place showcases the unique and excellent resource that is the Historical Thesaurus and reveals the linguistic treasures to be found within. This fascinating book will appeal to anyone with an interest in words and in the development of the English language.
I found this book fascinating. The author has chosen fifteen entries from the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary and shown how the words used to talk about death, money, being drunk, a fool, inns and hotels and a few other subjects have changed over the centuries.
Let’s look at the word ‘dead’, for example. I was so amused that David Crystal had included such a range of words on the subject. No, I’m not amused by death. It’s just that we had an old family friend, who my father delighted in quizzing about various old friends who he knew had passed away. The reason? This friend would use different phrases to say that they were dead. ‘Oh Mrs X, she’s gone West!’; ‘Mr Y? He’s pushing up daisies!’; ‘Mr Z? His light went out years ago!’ How we enjoyed this whole exchange. Little did we realize how our vocabulary was expanding and even less that I’d be blogging about this several years later.
Back to the book now. It’s the kind of book that you can browse through time and again and learn something new each time. This one is staying on my Kindle for good! A definite 4.5/5.0 for me.
I received the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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