author: Jack Lynch
average rating: 3.98
book published: 2009
read at: 2010/05/27
date added: 2011/07/12
shelves: history, non-fiction, writing
If you are a language nerd of any sort, you’ll enjoy this book. Lots of weird tidbits about the attempts to wrangle the English language into place beginning with the printing press.
Which, as it turns out, is when consistent spelling actually starts to matter. Also, as it happens, is when there was some sort of huge shift in English pronunciation, so that the written form preserves (kinda) a different English than the one we actually speak. That explains a lot!
Some fascinating characters in here; he spends lots of time with Johnson and Webster in particular. At the same time, he engages with the big social movements around them. All in all, great writing.
(BTW, the “South Park” in the subtitle: not enough to get excited about, which is somewhat disappointing. As in, I can’t remember now what the reference was. I could’ve also stood for some discussion of how the Simpsons has actively shaped our lexicon. He loses some steam after the kerfuffle around Webster’s 3rd edition.)