A best-selling linguist takes us on a full of life tour of how the English language is evolving before our eyes – and why we should embrace this transformation and not fight it.
Language is all the time changing – but we tend not to adore it. We remember that new words must be created for new things, but the way English is spoken today rubs many of us the flawed way. Whether it’s the usage of literally to mean “figuratively” quite than “by the letter” or the way young people use LOL and like, or business jargon like what’s the ask? – it regularly seems as if the language is deteriorating before our eyes.
But the truth is different and a lot less scary, as John McWhorter shows in this delightful and eye-opening exploration of how English has all the time been in motion and continues to evolve today. Drawing examples from everyday life and employing a generous helping of humor, he shows that these shifts are a natural process common to all languages and that we should embrace and appreciate these changes, not condemn them.
Words on the Move opens our eyes to the surprising backstories to the words and expressions we use on a daily basis. Did you know that silly once meant “blessed”? Or that ought was the original past tense of owe? Or that the suffix -ly in adverbs is in reality a remnant of the word like? And have you ever wondered why some people from New Orleans sound as if they come from Brooklyn?
McWhorter encourages us to marvel at the dynamism and resilience of the English language, and his book offers a full of life journey through which we discover that words are ever on the move, and our lives are all the richer for it.