Kory Stamper voted for Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries as Best Nonfiction in the Final Round of the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards.
Kory Stamper voted for Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries as Best Nonfiction in the Semifinal Round of the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards.
“We think of English as a fortress to be defended, but a better analogy is to think of English as a child. We love and nurture it into being, and once it gains gross motor skills, it starts going exactly where we don't want it to go: it heads right for the goddamned electrical sockets. We dress it in fancy clothes and tell it to behave, and it comes home with its underwear on its head and wearing someone else's socks. As English grows, it lives its own live, and this is right and healthy.”
“English has a lot of synonyms for “fool” or “idiot.” Perhaps you take this to mean that English speakers are mean-spirited; I simply reply that necessity is the mother of invention.”
“When a lexicographer says “unless…” in the middle of defining, you should turn out the lights and go home, first making sure you’ve left them a supply of water and enough nonperishable food to last several days. “Unless…” almost always marks the beginning of a wild lexical goose chase.”
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