Saturday, August 12, 2017

Word by Word by Kory Stamper

    • Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
    • Published March 14, 2017
    • First book by author

    • The author works for Merriam-Webster as a lexicographer. She writes definitions for words in the dictionary.
    • There are chapters about every facet of definition writing: meaning, pronunciation, etymology, part of speech, usage and more.
    • Everything you wanted to know about dictionary writing but were afraid to ask...for fear someone might tell you.

    • The author is funny and sometimes a bit profane, bringing some liveliness to what many might think a dull subject.
      • For a bunch of people, especially readers (including me), the idea of writing for a dictionary or an encyclopedia is a dream job.
      • The author has a blog and a Twitter feed. I follow both and here's a recent tweet:
        • "Dear Mr. Man, Thanks for writing. Rest assured I did see the comment you left on my blog. I have not approved it because it's stupid."
    • One chapter covers the usage of the word "irregardless". Many people would tell you "it's not a word" but because it is used often to replace the correct word "regardless" it gets a place in the dictionary because of its usage. 
      • Irregardless is incorrect because it has a prefix (ir-) and a suffix (-less) which both mean "not". 
      • "Regardless" is equivalent to "not regarded" or "without regard".
      • That means "irregardless" is equivalent to "not not regarded" or "not without regard" which, as a double negative, takes you back to "with regard". That's why it's incorrect usage. But many people still USE it so it needs to be in the dictionary.
      • The point is that the dictionary is a snapshot of the language at the time it is written.
    • I find the history and meaning of words to be fascinating so I really enjoyed this book.
    • Recommended for people who love words. Also enjoyable for those who read World Book Encyclopedias as kids.
    • ★ ★ ★ ★

1 comment:

  1. Irregardless of your encyclopedia of choice, we read the Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia to learn everything...that existed in the 1970s.