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The Word Book

by Bryony Harrison (follow)
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the word book

Do you love words? I love words. They are such useful things; without them, I would not be able to write this review.

Words were invented by early man, who decided that talking was far more efficient than grunting or drawing pictures on walls.There are many languages, but none are quite so rich as the English language. There are over five hundred thousand words in the English Oxford Dictionary (not including scientific terms), and if that is not enough to get your meaning across, you can always coin your own, just like William Shakespeare did for his plays. Did you know that Shakespeare made up over seventeen hundred words that are commonly used today? These include assassinate, suspicious, dwindle, hurry, leapfrog, and monumental to name but a few.

the word book

Oxford graduate, Gyles Brandreth also loves words. He loves words so much that he wrote a book about them. As unimaginative as the title may be, The Word Book is a brilliant read, and a must for anyone who is curious about the English language or loves wordplay.

The book is divided into two sections; the first section is called 'word work', and tells you all about the origins of the English language. Discover how it has taken bits and pieces from Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Greek, Roman, German, French, and so on.

What is really interesting is seeing how the language has developed over the centuries. Gyles provides an extract from the Lord's Prayer, which is written in Old English, Middle English, and Modern English; this allows you to see how individual words have adapted to suit our needs.

You can find out about other fascinating too, such as a fifteen letter word that has no repeats, cool metaphors, and humorous illustrations full of puns.

the word book

In the second section, the fun continues with 'Word Play', in which Brandreth introduces lots of different word games you can play on your own or with friends. No need for a Scrabble board, a pen and paper is all you require.

Why not try your hand at an acrostic poem, or puzzle over a few anagrams? There are words squares, quizzes, and games for two. One of my favourite is 'Ghost'. Player one must think of a word, and say the first letter of that word; player two must then think of a word that starts with that letter, and say the second letter that follows. The game continues like this until a complete word is formed, and cannot be extended. For example:

Player 1: A
Player 2: Ar
Player 1: Are
Player 2: Aren
Player 1: Arena
Player 2: Arenas

Player one can no longer add to the words, an so player two is the winner.

If you think someone needs convincing how wonderful words are, you can't do better than showing them this book.

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Will get this book from Library, read, then decide if I want a copy for myself.

It'll be interesting to compare with Prof David Crystal's various books, on the subject, of which I have my own copies.
I have read David Crystal as well. He is very good. This one is more about having fun with words.
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