Megan's Reviews > The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution of "Proper" English, from Shakespeare to South Park

The Lexicographer's Dilemma by Jack Lynch
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's review
Jan 06, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, language
Read in January, 2010 — I own a copy

This book is entertaining while doing a great job of telling the history of how our language has come to be compiled--while also explaining what the "dilemma" of the title is. Lynch shows how the two camps (prescriptivists and descriptivists) have tussled ever since there was something to tussle about. Is a dictionary meant to compile and describe the language as it is spoken, or is it meant to tell us how it "should" be spoken, which is never the same thing? There is even a chapter on the "bad words" which, for anyone who ever looked up a swear word in the school dictionary as a child, is an essential part of the story.

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