Word by Word

“The process of creating a dictionary is magical, frustrating, brain wrenching, mundane, transcendent. It is ultimately a show of love for a language that has been called unlovely and unlovable.” Unlovable? Bah! English may be a strange, amorphous beast, but its quirkiness is its charm. In Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, Kory… Read more Word by Word

Notes on Shady Characters

Keith Houston’s 2013 book Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks is like catnip for word nerds. It’s rife with historical trivia about the more uncommon punctuation marks that have littered language history, including the pilcrow (¶), dagger (†), and interrobang (‽). It also provides background on the symbols we… Read more Notes on Shady Characters

The Word Exchange

Warning: Here be minor spoilers. I collect cool words. It started with Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition: words like calumny, bugbear, abstemious, and postprandial popped out as I read that great history of Prohibition a few years ago, and I wanted to remember them, so I wrote them down. I’ve done that with… Read more The Word Exchange