Word Histories And Mysteries Pa

Overview

Did you know that cats are related etymologically to caterpillars? Or that Thomas Edison played a key role in popularizing the use of the greeting “Hello”? Or that muscles were originally mice, since a flexed biceps looks like a little rodent scurrying under the skin?

Word Histories and Mysteries provides a panoramic view of the unique richness of English, uncovering the origins of five hundred everyday words whose surprising and often amusing stories offer insights into the ...

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Overview

Did you know that cats are related etymologically to caterpillars? Or that Thomas Edison played a key role in popularizing the use of the greeting “Hello”? Or that muscles were originally mice, since a flexed biceps looks like a little rodent scurrying under the skin?

Word Histories and Mysteries provides a panoramic view of the unique richness of English, uncovering the origins of five hundred everyday words whose surprising and often amusing stories offer insights into the history of humankind. Arranged in convenient alphabetical order, the notes are written in a lively and entertaining style perfect for browsing. The reader can learn how some of the most recent words, such as the computer term wiki, were coined, or trace the origins of English back to the Indo-European language spoken long before the invention of writing.

A short introduction outlines the techniques linguists use to trace the history of words, and a handy glossary explains the linguistic terms that describe the ways in which language changes over time. Photographs and drawings help familiarize the reader with the ancient objects or cultural practices from which our words have sprung.

Fascinating and fun to read, Word Histories and Mysteries is an ideal gift for high school or college students interested in language and for anyone who wants to know more about the curious sounds we make to communicate every day.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The 400 alphabetically arranged entries here illustrate the diversity from which the English language draws its vocabulary, particularly from the prehistoric base that linguists call Proto-Indo-European. As a result, the editors aim to demonstrate links between the ancient base and modern English. Examples include describing how pairs of words like "flour" and "flower," as well as "housewife" and "hussy" each evolved from the same Indo-European word. Typical entries span one or two long paragraphs and are spiced with anecdotes when possible. The entries take a detailed, scholarly approach, sometimes explaining broader linguistic ideas along with the history of a word. The entry for cattle, for example, discusses the sound shift from "ch" to "c," and the entry for baby-sit defines the process of back-formation of nouns. Other scholarly resources include the introduction, which summarizes highlights of the history of English; a glossary of linguistic terms; and a chart indicating the dozens of languages that developed from Indo-European. Bottom Line Given the depth of the individual entries, this offers a more scholarly approach than other books of common word origins, such as Stewart Edelstein's Dubious Doublets. An overall quality resource, this is recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618454501
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/13/2004
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 366
  • Sales rank: 791,094
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

The Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries are a team of professional lexicographers with advanced degrees in various scholarly fields. The editors familiarize themselves with the vocabulary in specific subject areas, collect materials on new developments and usage, and work with expert consultants to ensure that the content of our publications is as accurate and as up-to-date as possible.

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Table of Contents

Editorial and Production Staff vii
Introduction ix
The Word Histories and Mysteries 1
Glossary 333
The Indo-European Family of Languages 346
Picture Credits 348
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