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If time travelers from the nineteenth century dropped in on us, our strange vocabulary would shock them just as much as our TVs, cars, and computers. Society changes, and so does its word stock. The Life of Language reveals how pop culture, business, technology, and other forces of globalization expand and enrich the English language, forming thousands of new words every year. In this fascinating and jargon-free guide, lexicographers Kipfer and Steinmetz reconstruct the births of thousands of words, including infantries, poz, mobs, Soho, dinks, choo choos, frankenfoods, LOL, narcs and perps. · A word lover's guide to etymology, written in a fun, informal, and accessible style· An excellent resource for vocabulary building; a word's root helps readers understand its meaning· Beautifully packaged paperback with French flapsFrom the Trade Paperback edition.
Rumors that Yiddish is a dead language are greatly exaggerated. In fact, both the Yiddish language and culture are alive and well in America and elsewhere. English speakers take note: The Random House Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary both contain almost 100 Yiddish words that are now considered part of the English language. The impact of Yiddish culture is strongly felt in the films of Woody Allen, in Broadway shows like The Producers, and in television sitcoms such as The Nanny and Seinfeld in the tradition of the comic headliners of the Catskills. The world of Yiddish reaches out and embraces us in the literature of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Art Spiegelman, the culinary offerings of innumerable delicatessens, and the renewed popularity of klezmer music. Yiddish is rich and soulful, thick with pathos, full of humor and self-deprecating wit and sarcasm -- as a language it uniquely captures the essence of what, or who, it describes. If you've ever noshed on a bagel, or yelled at the schmuck who had the chutzpah to cut you off at the traffic light, you've been enriched and empowered by Yiddish. Beautifully designed and illustrated, Meshuggenary is a deeply researched and eclectic introduction to Yiddish language, culture, and history. It explores the basics of Yiddish vocabulary and grammar; proverbs, expressions, blessings, curses, and insults; and even the difference between Yiddish, Yinglish (Yiddish-origin words now part of English), and Yiddlish (words that sound Yiddish but aren't). There are chapters on Yiddish humor, literature, theater, and music; a who's who of Yiddish luminaries; and a captivating glimpse of the contributions of women to its literature and culture. So you shouldn't go hungry, there's a chapter on food with a tempting selection of family recipes. And if this little taste isn't enough to satisfy you, there's information on a host of books and Yiddish Web sites and Internet links. Erudite, accessible, highly informative, and enormously entertaining, Meshuggenary is an irresistible pleasure.
After an introduction surveying the many reasons that words might change meaning over the years and centuries, lexicographer Steinmetz cites in dictionary fashion English words that used to mean something different than they do now. Entries are about a half page long. A glossary of names and terms is provided. Pronunciations are not indicated for anything. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
From the turn of the twentieth century to today, our language has grown from around 90,000 new words to some 500,000--at least, that's today's best guesstimate (1936). What accounts for this quantum leap (1924)? In There's a Word for It, language expert Sol Steinmetz takes us on a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (1949) joyride (1908) through our nation's cultural history, as seen through the neato (1951) words and terms we've invented to describe it all. From the quaintly genteel days of the 1900s (when we first heard words such as nickelodeon, escalator, and, believe it or not, Ms.) through the Roaring Twenties (the time of flappers, jalopies, and bootleg booze) to the postwar '50s (the years of rock 'n' roll, beatniks, and blast-offs) and into the new millennium (with its blogs, Google, and Obamamania), this feast for word lovers is a boffo (1934) celebration of linguistic esoterica (1929). In chapters organized by decade, each with a lively and informative narrative of the life and language of the time, along with year-by-year lists of words that were making their first appearance, There's a Word for It reveals how the American culture contributed to the evolution and expansion of the English language and vice versa. Clearly, it's must-reading (1940). And not to disparage any of the umpteen (1918) other language books on the shelf--though they have their share of hokum (1917) and gobbledygook (1944)--but this one truly is the bee's knees and the cat's pajamas (1920s).
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