Cover of: Damp Squid | Jeremy Butterfield

Damp Squid

the English language laid bare

Published by Oxford University Press in New York .
Written in English.

About the Book

When James Murray compiled the OED in the 19th century, he used a small army of volunteers--and thousands upon thousands of paper slips--to track down the English language. Today, linguists use massive computer power--including the world's largest language databank, the Oxford Corpus, which contains more than two billion words--to determine for the first time definitively how the English language is used. From evidence contained in the gargantuan Oxford Corpus, Jeremy Butterfield here uncovers a wealth of fascinating facts about the English language. Where does our vocabulary come from? How do word meanings change? How is our language really being used? This entertaining book has the up-to-date and authoritative answers to all the key questions about our language. Butterfield takes a thorough look at the English language and exposes its peculiarities and penchants, its development and difficulties, revealing exactly how it operates. We learn, for instance, that we use language in chunks of words--as one linguist put it, "we know words by the company that they keep." For instance, the word quintessentially is joined half the time with a nationality--something is "quintessentially American" or "quintessentially British." Using such observations, Butterfield explains how dictionary makers decide which words to include, how they find definitions, and how the Corpus influences the process. Covering all areas of English, from spelling and idioms to the future of English, and with entertaining examples and useful charts throughout, this compelling and lively book will delight word lovers everywhere. - Publisher.

Table of Contents

A sea change: the corpus
Size matters: how many words?
Your Roman-Saxon-Danish-Norman English: where do words come from?
Beware of heard: why spelling wobbles
Which is to be master? meaning in context
Words of a feather: word groupings
Cats and dogs: idiomatic phrases
Grammar that can govern even kings: what do we mean by grammar?
Style wars: usages people hate.

Edition Notes

Includes bibliographical references (p. [166]-174) and index.


Dewey Decimal Class
Library of Congress
PE1575 .B88 2009

The Physical Object

179 p.
Number of pages
20 x x centimeters

ID Numbers

Open Library
Internet Archive
LC Control Number

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