Simon Winchester discusses his book The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Tagged with “english” (4)
George Bernard Shaw ridiculed the British obsession with class, recognising that its most powerful expression was not in what someone said, but how he or she said it. Using a wealth of archive, we hear how the drive to hide linguistic, geographical roots often went hand in hand with a desire to be seen as part of the metropolitan set and we hear about the post war levelling and the move away from RP.
Steven Pinker discusses the interplay of language and the mind and how psychological processes have shaped the English language.
The best stuff is about using Google’s enormous database of word-from-books to track how language evolves over time, in particular the gradual erosion of irregular forms in English (keep/kept and drive/drove) in favour of their regular counterparts (beep/beeped and jive/jived).
Which you WILL want to follow up with a visit to Google Ngrams - http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/ - essentially Google Trends but with all written words in the English language for the last 1,000 years (instead of all search terms in the last ten years).
The British poet and alchemist Thomas Norton used the word "attoms" in his 1477 poem, The Ordinal of Alchemy. Historian Howard Markel explains how Norton came to use the word, and points out earlier philosophers who raised the concept of indivisible units of matter.