Fascinating Fundamentals

I probably would not have picked up this book, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper,  on my own but it was recommended on a blog I follow by literary agent, Janet Reid.


There are fascinating tidbits in this book for the word lover. For example, the author bemoans and befriends the addition of the word irregardless to the dictionary.

She also writes a bit about grammar. 

Do not end a sentence with a preposition

This is a rule I certainly remember being taught in grade school. Why this rule?  

Before we get into the why of this rule, some background:

First, the author reminds us that until the mid-fifteenth century, Latin and French were the languages of official documents.

Second, Latin and French had been around a long time and had grammatical standards in place. English, as a written language, was unruly. Grammar standards were needed for use in court and legal documents.

 How in the world are Latin and French related to English grammar rules? Read on ~ 

English grammar is not Latin grammar. English has a grammatical structure similar to other Germanic languages, and Latin has a grammatical structure similar to other Italic languages. Blending grammatical systems from two languages on different branches of the Indo-European language tree is a bit like mixing orange juice and milk: you can do it, but it’s going to be nasty.
— Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries

That unexpected hit of humor that peeped out there? The author has bits of those moments sprinkled throughout her book.  And I appreciate the behind-the-scenes peek at the working life of a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. 

If you wish to learn more about the English language, this is your book! Check it out.