The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins | 160.7MB
English | Category: Audio Books
English is changing all around us. We see this in new words such as bling and email, and from the loss of old forms such as shall. Its a human impulse to play with language and to create new words and meaningsï¿½but also to worry about the decay of language. Does text messaging signal the end of ï¿½pure Englishï¿½? Why do teenagers pepper their sentences with like and you know?
By studying how and why language changes and the story behind the everyday words in our lexicon, we can learn a lot about ourselvesï¿½how our minds work and how our culture has changed over the centuries.
Beyond this, words are enormously powerful. They can clarify or obscure the truth, set a political agenda, and drive commercial enterprises. They have the power to amuse and to hurt. They can connect us to each other or drive us apart. Sometimes words are unsayable, and other times words fail us completely because, for all the vibrancy and breadth of English, we still have major gaps in the lexicon.
In The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins, youll get a delightful, informative survey of English, from its Germanic origins to the rise of globalization and cyber-communications. Award-winning Professor Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan approaches the subject like an archaeologist, digging below the surface to uncover the story of words, from the humble she to such SAT words as conflagration and pedimanous.
In this course, youll
discover the history of the dictionary and how words make it into a reference book like the Oxford English Dictionary (OED);
survey the borrowed words that make up the English lexicon;
find out how words are born and how they die;
expand your vocabulary by studying Greek and Latin word webs; and
revel in new terms, such as musquirt, adorkable, and struggle bus.
Professor Curzan celebrates English for all its nuances and curiosities. By stepping back to excavate the language as a linguist, she shows you there is no such thing as a boring word.
Chart the Story of Cultural Contact
Why do most words for animals in the fieldcow, sheep, pig, deercome from Old English while most words for meat on the tablebeef, mutton, pork, venisoncome from French? It turns out that when the Normans invaded England in 1066, their language infiltrated ours, and English owes much to the Norman rulers of the 11th and 12th centuries.
As youll learn in The Secret Life of Words, English is an omnivorous language and has borrowed heavily from the many languages it has come into contact with, from Celtic and Old Norse in the Middle Ages to the dozens of world languages in the truly global 20th and 21st centuries. Indeed, the story of English is the story of cultural contact, as youll see when you
meet the Norman-French rulers who gave us much of our language for government, politics, the economy, and law;
encounter the infusion of Latin and Greek during the Renaissance, which provided English the language of science, the arts, music, education, literature, and linguistics; and
take an A-to-Z tour of words from the worlds languages, from Arabic, Bengali, and Chinese to Yiddish and Zulu.
The world has never had a language as truly global as English, yet the language is not globally uniform. In addition to understanding the influence of cultural contact, youll learn about many of the regional differences within English, both inside the United States and throughout the world, with a specific look at British versus American English, the Midwest vowel shift, the synonyms of y all, and more.
As Professor Curzan takes you through the centuries and around the world to reveal how our language came to be, she unpacks the myth that there was once a pure English that we can look back to with nostalgia. Even during the Renaissance, English purists were concerned about the infiltration of foreign words into English. Youll delight in learning about the ink-horn controversy, named for the purists objections to long, Latinate words that required more ink to write.
This debate between the purists and the innovators has continued for centuries. Benjamin Franklin railed against using the word notice as a verb. Twentieth-century prescriptivists condemned the common use of the sentence adverb hopefully. And the stigma against the word aint is alive and well today. But are the prescriptivists right? Is English really in a state of decay?
See Why Its an Exciting Time for English
Professor Curzan sympathizes with the impulse to conserve the old language, even citing the verb interface as one of the words she wishes would just go away. Yet despite this sympathy, she also recognizes the naturalness of change. Had the ink-horn purists had their way, we would be using Old English compounds such as flesh-strings for muscles and bone-lock for joint.
Because our language is always in flux, a study of English words allows you to trace
technological innovations app,Google, and the prefix ;
historical eventschad, 9/11, and bailout;
cultural changes flexitarian, unfriend;
human creativity and playfulnessGoogleganger, Dracula sneeze, and multislacking; and
conversational discourse markersum, well, now.
In fact, Professor Curzan points out that with the rise of electronically mediated communication, future linguists may look back on the late 20th and early 21st centuries as a key moment in the languageï¿½s history, as revolutionary as the printing press. Throughout The Secret Life of Words, she reflects on such questions as these:
Where do new words come from? Who has the authority to coin a word?
How have text messaging, social media, and instant messaging affected our use of language?
Who owns language? Can a corporation control a word?
Is it possible to reform language?
Along the way youll look at gendered language and how words such as hussy and mistress have become pejorative; Internet communications and the nuance to acronyms such as LOL; technology-inspired new language such as texting; taboo words; and the language of sports, politics, love, and war.
Youll discover that far from being a mere practicality, wordplay is a uniquely human form of entertainment. This course provides a wonderful opportunity to study slang and the creation of new words. You may not come away using terms like whatevs, traffic-lighty, or struggle bus in casual conversation, but youll love studying the linguistic system that gives us such irreverentand funslang, from boy toy to cankles.
A Vibrant, Professional Guide
At the heart of this course is the wonderful Professor Curzan. With energy, enthusiasm, and a democratic approach to language, she takes you on a journey from Beowulf and the Battle of Hastings to modern-day blogs and chat rooms. She brings you teenage slang and Internet-speak, and she delves deeply into the history of English and the field of linguistics.
As an award-winning professor, a member of the American Dialect Society, and a member of the American Heritage Dictionarys usage panel, Professor Curzan knows her material, and she presents a wealth of information in this comprehensive course. But since the material is so enjoyablegeektastic, you might say it hardly feels like learning.
By course end, youll come away with a new appreciation for the many varieties of English, and youll be equipped with the tools to build on these linguistic foundations. From the subtle negotiation of a word like well in conversation to the hidden relationship between foot and pedestrian, once you begin to explore the secret life of words, your understanding of English will never be the same.
1Winning Words, Banished Words
2The Life of a Word, from Birth to Death
3The Human Hands behind Dictionaries
4Treasure Houses, Theft, and Traps
5Yarn and CluesNew Word Meanings
6Smog, Mob, BlingNew Words
7Often versus Offen Pronunciation
8Fighting over Zippers
9Opening the Early English Word-Hoard
10Safe and Sound The French Invasion
11Magnifical Dexterity Latin and Learning
12Chutzpah to Pajamas World Borrowings
13The Pop/Soda/Coke Divide
14Maths, Wombats, and Les Bluejeans
15Foot and PedestrianWord Cousins
16Desultory SomersaultsLatin Roots
17Analogous ProloguesGreek Roots
18The Tough Stuff of English Spelling
19The b in DebtMeddling in Spelling
20Of Mice, Men, and YAll
21Im Good Or Am I Well?
22How Snuck Sneaked In
23Um, Well, Like, You Know
24Wicked CoolThe Irreverence of Slang
25Boy Toys and Bad Eggs Slangy Wordplay
26Spinster, Bachelor, Guy, Dude
27Firefighters and Freshpersons
28A Slam Dunk The Language of Sports
29Fooling AroundThe Language of Love
30Gung Ho The Language of War
31FilibusteringThe Language of Politics
32LOLThe Language of the Internet
33#$ %!Forbidden Words
34Couldnt (or Could) Care Less
35Musquirt and Other Lexical Gaps
36Playing Fast and Loose with Words
Type Audiobooks - Language