Words on the Move: Why English Won't - and Can't - Sit Still (Like, Literally) by John McWhorter

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Read Words on the Move: Why English Won't - and Can't - Sit Still (Like, Literally) Online Free - A bestselling linguist takes us on a lively tour of how the English language is evolving before our eyes -- and why we should embrace this transformation and not fight it

Language is always changing -- but we tend not to like it. We understand that new words must be created for new things, but the way English is spoken today rubs many of us the wrong way. Whether it’s the use of literally to mean “figuratively” rather than “by the letter,” or the way young people use LOL and like, or business jargon like What’s the ask? -- it often 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 always 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 every day. 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 actually 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 lively journey through which we discover that words are ever on the move and our lives are all the richer for it.

Title : Words on the Move: Why English Won't - and Can't - Sit Still (Like, Literally)
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 1627794719
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 pages


Todd rated it ★★★★★

February 07, 2017

One of the few books that has substantially changed my opinion on a subject. McWhorter mocks the grammar Nazis and portrays them as grammar Hitler Youth, young punks who do not really understand what they are talking about simply trying to impress others with their orthodoxy. As you would expect f...

David rated it ★★★★★

September 24, 2016

This was ... literally ... a fascinating, informative, and incredibly interesting book! I listened to it on Audible (which I would highly recommend for this book), in a reading done by the author, John McWhorter -- who was very entertaining and held my interest like a laser. He is a linguist, and...

Mark rated it ★★★★★

June 15, 2017

I've gone through two of John McWhorter's Great Courses on language; I've read several of his books, and I'm a faithful listener to his podcast. When I picked up this book I suddenly realized, "I know just what he's going to say. I get John McWhorter." But a testimony to his consummate skill as a...

Jennifer rated it ★★☆☆☆

June 29, 2016

Thanks to the generosity of author John McWhorter and Henry Holt and Company, I was able to review this ARC of Words on the Move through winning a Goodreads giveaway. I love words and the stories behind them, so I was drawn to McWhorter's book from the start. The book itself is one part word-histo...

Tony rated it ★★★☆☆

January 05, 2017

WORDS ON THE MOVE. (2016). John McWhorter. ***. To give you a clue, the author is an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. Some of his other books include “The Language Hoax,” “The Power of Babel,” and “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue.” That give you a fe...

Shawn rated it ★★★★★

October 09, 2017

McWhorter's approach to language and linguistics is refreshing and enlightening. As a trade book, I am sure the ruffles and edges of more scholarly approaches are smoothed out, but McWhorter does a good job of making it simple without being simplistic. In this work, McWhorter discusses how langua...

Jonathan rated it ★★★☆☆

January 24, 2017

This book is directed at people who are overly judgmental about the way others use English to communicate. The language has always been constantly changing, so there is no one “standard” English that people ought to use. At the end of the book, the author does, however, make the point that people...

Shoshana rated it ★★★★★

September 22, 2016

What a fun and delightful book this is. Written in his trademark humorous style, John McWhorter tackles the serious and engrossing subject of language change in a way that doesn't require a linguistics degree to enjoy and follow. The reader is carried along on McWhorter's lively prose, learning a...

Connie rated it ★★★★★

May 31, 2017

I love John McWhorter. He makes linguistics, language, grammar, human communication, and history so much fun. Granted, I find all those subjects interesting anyway, but McWhorter makes so many clever observations and comments that it is simply entertaining. He is also the rare author who delivers...

Lynn rated it ★★★★★

May 10, 2017

This is an interesting book of words discussing words. The premise: language is a living breathing entity which is always changing. You have to be fascinated by words and language to love this book. John McWhorter is a English professor who specializes in linguistics. He does a fantastic job of m...

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