The English Language Laid Bare
Using evidence from the world's largest language databank, the Oxford English Corpus, Butterfield uncovers fascinating facts about the English language. Where does our vocabulary come from? How is our language really being used? How do word meanings change? This entertaining book has the authoritative answers to key questions about our language.
How many words are there in the English language and where were they born? Why does spelling 'wobble' and why do meanings change? How do words behave towards each other - and how do we behave towards words? And what does this all mean for dictionary-making in the 21st century? This entertaining book has the up-to-date and authoritative answers to all the key questions about our language. Using evidence provided by the world's largest language databank, the Oxford English Corpus, Butterfield exposes the English language's peculiarities and penchants, its development and difficulties, revealing exactly how it operates. Interpolating his expert knowledge of dictionary-making, Butterfield explains how dictionaries decide which words to include, how they find definitions, and how a Corpus influences the process. Whether you are happy to give the language free rein (free reign?), or whether you are more straight-laced (strait-laced?) when it comes to change, you will be amazed at what is revealed when the English language goes buck naked. (Or should that be butt naked?)
A sea change: The Corpus; 1. Size matters: How many words?; 2. Your Roman-Saxon-Danish-Norman-English: Where do words come from?; 3. Beware of heard: Why spelling wobbles; 4. Which is to be master? Meaning in context; 5. Words of a feather: Word groupings; 6. Cats and dogs: Idiomatic phrases; 7. Grammar that can govern even kings: What do we mean by grammar?; 8. Style wars: Usages people hate; Dictionaries then and now; NOTES; INDEX