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The Secret Life of Words : How English Became English (Paperback)

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Product Overview

AN ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR

The Secret Life of Words is a wide-ranging account of the transplanted, stolen, bastardized words we've come to know as the English languag. It's a history of English as a whole, and of the thousands of individual words, from more than 350 foreign tongues, that trickled in gradually over hundreds of years of trade, colonization, and diplomacy. Henry Hitchings narrates the story from the Norman Conquest to the present day, chronicling the English language as a living archive of human experience.

A SAMPLE OF THE THOUSANDS OF STORIES BEHIND THE WORDS:
? Alcatraz Island was named by a Spanish explorer who arrived in 1775 to find the island covered with pelicans, oralcatraces. And "alcatraces"? The word goes back to the Arabic al-qadus, which was a bucket used in irrigation that resembled the bucket beaks of pelicans.

? What does a walnut have to do with walls? The word comes from the Old English walhnutu, meaning foreign nut. They were originally grown in Italy and imported, and the northern Europeans named them to distinguish them from the native hazelnut.

? A crayfish is not a fish. The name comes from the old French word crevice, through the Old Germancrebiz and the modern French ecrevisse. The "fish" part is just the result of a mishearing."

The Secret Life of Words is a wide-ranging chronicle of how words witness history, reflect social change, and remind us of our past.

Specifications

Publisher Picador USA
Mfg Part# 9780312428563
SKU 211282757
Format Paperback
ISBN10 0312428561
Release Date 9/29/2009
Product Attributes
eBooks Kobo
Book Format Paperback
Number of Pages 0440
Publisher Picador USA
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