Around the World in Twenty Languages
More than 75 per cent of the world’s population can communicate in one of the 20 most-spoken languages, from Vietnamese and Korean (85 million speakers each) to Mandarin and English (1.3 and 1.5 billion respectively). As he profiles these successful lingua francas, Dorren discusses key features including their origins, scripts and pronunciation. He also analyses how linguistic oddities, such as the different ‘genderlects’ spoken by Japanese men and women, reflect aspects of cultural and political history.
City of Light, City of Poison
Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris
In 1667 the lawyer Nicolas de La Reynie was appointed by Louis XIV as the first lieutenant general of Paris, with far-reaching powers to combat the city’s filth, violence and organized crime. Based on court transcripts and La Reynie’s extensive notes, this account of his work describes not only projects for installing street lighting and cleaning pavements but also his shocking discovery of a cabal of poisoners, witches and renegade priests whose malign influence reached deep into the Sun King’s court.
Words Derived from Old Norse in Early Middle English
Studies in the Vocabulary of The South-West Midland Texts
Richard Dance presents etymological and contextual studies of the lexical terms originally derived from Old Norse that are found in the principal early Middle English texts from the South-West Midlands, including Ancrene Wisse and Layamon’s Brut.
The English Spelling Book
A Progressive Series of Easy and Familiar Lessons
William Mavor’s very successful ‘Progressive Series of Easy and Familiar Lessons’ was first published in 1801 and this edition, illustrated by Kate Greenaway, gave it a new lease of life in 1885. This book is a facsimile of that edition. A far cry from the big, colourful early reading books of today, it has lists of one, two, three and four syllable words, simple stories, and a selection of moral tales, poems and prayers.
Opening Pandora's Box
Phrases Borrowed from the Classics and the Stories behind Them
We might know what it means to be 'under the aegis', but what was the aegis? In this A–Z of classical allusion, Ferdie Addis has gathered together words and phrases, such as chimera, Croesus, hoi polloi and lotus eaters, that so enrich modern English, and he tells of their weird and wonderful origins in ancient history and Greek and Roman mythology.
The Usual Suspects
and Other Cliches
Cliches: over-used, abused, and often derided at by school teachers – or are they valuable linguistic shorthand, summing up in a few words what otherwise would take twenty? In this A–Z, lexicographer Betty Kirkpatrick explains the stories behind and the usage of more than 1,500 phrases, old and new, from what is 'essentially a lawless part of the English language'. First published as The Dictionary of Cliches in 1996. Second edition.