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by John Ayto
The average contemporary English speaker knows 50,000 words. Yet stripped down to its origins, this apparently huge vocabulary is in reality much smaller, derived from Latin, French and the Germanic languages. It is estimated that every year, 800 neologisms are added to the English language: acronyms (nimby), blended words (motel), and those taken from foreign languages (s ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published May 29th 2008 by A&C Black Business Information and Development
(first published 2005)
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It's worth looking up the only review of this book. It made me gasp. Americans famously think that everyone is either American or understands its culture, politics - position on Trump - and even geography, like knowing what PA and KY mean and where they are relative to each other. But to think that the word origins of English is not understandable and somewhat worthless if written and published in the UK is.... mind-boggling!
I didn't actually read all of it, that'd be like reading a dictionary, but I did randomly look up words and was often disappointed not to find them in the book. Meanwhile words I never even heard of like equerry were in there. I blame this on it being published in London. A fun reference book, but you can get more information on the internet so I wish it'd had something more to offer. The word trees in the back were interesting, I'd never made connections between some of those words.