Language

Bruce Moore reviews 'The Dictionary Wars: The American fight over the English language' by Peter Martin

Bruce Moore
03 September 2019

The title of this book refers to the battle for market dominance between the editors and publishers of two rival dictionaries, the one edited by Noah Webster and the other by Joseph Worces More

Bruce Moore reviews Australia’s Original Languages: An introduction by R.M.W. Dixon

Bruce Moore
22 July 2019

Bob Dixon has researched Australian Indigenous languages since the 1960s, has constructed grammars of five languages, and has written numerous scholarly books and articles on Aboriginal la More

Bruce Moore reviews 'That’s the Way It Crumbles: The American conquest of English' by Matthew Engel

Bruce Moore
06 December 2017

Matthew Engel has written for many years in The Guardian and the Financial Times, on topics ranging from politics to sport, and between 1993 and 2007 he produced editions More

Bruce Moore reviews 'The Word Detective: A life in words, from Serendipity to Selfie' by John Simpson

Bruce Moore
28 February 2017

What does a lexicographer do? How do you become a lexicographer? What makes a good lexicographer? What is the difference between a ‘standard’ dictionary and a dictionary based on historical principles? How do you reinvent the Oxford English Dictionary so that it has a secure place in an online modern publishing world? These are among the questions explo ... More

Bruce Moore reviews 'The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary' by Peter Gilliver

Bruce Moore
30 November 2016

There have been popular accounts of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, especially Simon Winchester’s The Surgeon of Crowthorne (1998) and The Meaning of Everything (2003), and th More

The new 'Australian National Dictionary' by Bruce Moore

Bruce Moore
25 July 2016

The Australian National Dictionary – the second edition of which has just been published – is based on historical principles and modelled on the large Oxford ...

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Kate Burridge reviews 'The Utility of Meaning' by N.J. Enfield

Kate Burridge
18 December 2015

Words and their meanings, more than any other aspects of language, hold a special fascination for people. Perhaps it is because, unlike these other features (which are set down during childhood), they continue to be acquired throughout one's lifetime. Words and their meanings are also intimately tied to the life and culture of speakers, and all sorts of perspectives ... More

Danielle Clode reviews 'Landmarks' by Robert Macfarlane

Danielle Clode
28 May 2015

The Western Isles arch across the north-west coast of Scotland, sheltering the mainland from the North Sea’s fury. In summer there are few places more magical than these islands, which Seton Gordon once described as standing ‘on the rim of the material earth’ looking west to the immortal realm of Tir nan Og.

On the northern islands, granite and gneiss ... More

John Arnold reviews 'Furphies and Whizz-Bangs' by Amanda Laugesen

John Arnold
02 March 2015

The Great War produced its own idiom and slang. Many of the new words and phrases created during the long conflict, such as ‘tank’ and ‘barrage’, became part of standard English, although often with a different nuance of meaning.

The recording of Australian soldier slang was seen as important at the end of the war. It was recognised as being integral ... More

Bruce Moore reviews 'Authorisms' by Paul Dickson

Bruce Moore
31 October 2014

American Paul Dickson has written many books on aspects of language, including Words from the White House (2013). He also claims to have invented some fifty words, although he admits that only two of these have any real chance of becoming ‘household words’: word word ‘a word that is repeated to distinguish it ... More

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