The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution of 'Proper' English, from Shakespeare to South Park

The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution of 'Proper' English, from Shakespeare to South Park

Jack Lynch


For language buffs and lexicographers, reproduction editors and proofreaders, and someone who appreciates the relationship among language and culture―the illuminating tale of "proper English."

In its lengthy heritage, the English language has had many lawmakers―those who've attempted to control, or differently set up, the way in which we communicate. The Lexicographer's issue offers the 1st narrative historical past of those endeavors, displaying basically that what we now regard because the simply "correct" method to converse emerged out of particular old and social stipulations over the process centuries.

As literary historian Jack Lynch has found, each rule has a human heritage, and the characters peopling his narrative are as attention-grabbing for his or her obsession as for his or her erudition. The fight among prescriptivists, who prescribe an accurate method, and descriptivists, who learn how language works, is on the middle of Lynch's tale. From the sharp-tongued satirist Jonathan quick, who referred to as for a governmentsponsored academy to factor rulings at the language, and the polymath Samuel Johnson, who positioned dictionaries on a brand new footing, to John Horne Tooke, the crackpot linguist whose extraordinary theories proceed to baffle students; Joseph Priestley, whose political radicalism brought on riots; and the ever-crotchety Noah Webster, whose target used to be to Americanize the English language―Lynch brings to existence a assorted forged as illuminating because it is unique.

Grammatical "rules" or "laws" usually are not just like the legislation of gravity, or legislation opposed to robbery or murder―they're extra like ideas of etiquette, made via fallible humans and topic to alter. Charting the evolution of English, Jack Lynch places latest debates―whether approximately Ebonics within the faculties or break up infinitives within the New York Times―in a wealthy historic context, and makes us relish anew the hard-won criteria we now enjoy.

Show sample text content

Download sample