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Twentieth Century Words
     

Twentieth Century Words

by John Ayto
 

In Twentieth Century Words, lexicographer John Ayto takes us on an exhilarating tour of our century, charting it decade by decade by way of the words we've coined to mark our passage through time.
Ayto looks at some 5,000 words and meanings, from "flapper" to "flower power" to "road rage." We learn the birth dates of words such as

Overview

In Twentieth Century Words, lexicographer John Ayto takes us on an exhilarating tour of our century, charting it decade by decade by way of the words we've coined to mark our passage through time.
Ayto looks at some 5,000 words and meanings, from "flapper" to "flower power" to "road rage." We learn the birth dates of words such as "movie" (1910s), "barbecue" (1930s), Beatlemania (1960s), and "foodie" (1980s). Ayto also treats us to many surprises as well. Did you know, for instance, that "atomic energy" was coined in the 1900s, "rocket ship" in the 1920s, "hologram" in the '40s, and "modem" in the '50s? And in addition to the main alphabetic sequence of entries, the book also offers boxed features on topics of special interest, such as words arising from World War II ("bazooka," "jeep," "bikini").
With a thoughtful essay to introduce each decade, and thousands of evocative words and phrases, Twentieth Century Words will enthrall all word lovers as it opens a unique window on the last one hundred years.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Ayto, the author of The Longman Register of New Words and The Oxford Dictionary of Slang, presents "the most salient" new English (British and U.S.) words and word meanings from the 20th century. Based on The Oxford English Dictionary and its supplements, entries include the date of the word's earliest appearance in the OED, a definition, and examples of usage. Words are arranged by decade, which is fine in theory but problematic in practice: had Ayto traced linguistic developments thematically, this volume would have been much easier to navigate. As it is, readers will have to rely heavily on the index. More importantly, a thematic structure would have given readers a sense of the issues that have dominated linguistic developments throughout the century. The brief essays that introduce each decade, situating new words in their historical context, aren't enough. Indeed, it would appear that Ayto has a poor grip on the issues and themes that shaped 20th-century English. For example, in his introduction to the 1990s (a decade marked, among other things, by high visibility of gay and lesbian culture), he makes the following, puzzling statement: "The gay community, meanwhile, had to face the new threat of outing." Despite its flaws, this book encapsulates 20th-century developments and will appeal to scholars and readers. For larger public and academic libraries.--Anna Youssefi, Univ. of Houston Lib. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Paul Dean
The virtues of the diachronic approach to linguistics are splendidly exemplified by John Anyo's unpretentious goldmine of a book, Twentieth Century Words, which takes us through the century chronologically and tells us which words and phrases were coined in each decade.
—From The Times Literary Supplement.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198602309
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
12/02/1999
Pages:
640
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

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