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Dr Johnson's Dictionary: The Book that Defined the World

Henry Hitchings

8 Reviews

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Biography: general, Language: history & general works, Prose: non-fiction

Journey into the history of English and discover how words have entered our language to make it what it is today.

Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from Have you ever thought about which words in English have been borrowed from Arabic, French or Dutch Try admiral, landscape and marmalade just for starters. The Secret Life of Words is a wide-ranging account not only of the history of English, but also of how words witness history, reflect social change and remind us of our turbulent past. Henry Hitchings delves into our promiscuous language and reveals how and why it has absorbed words from more than 350 other languages - many originating from the most unlikely of places, such as shampoo from Hindi and kiosk from Turkish.

From the Norman Conquest to the present day, Hitchings narrates the story of English as an archive of our human experience and uncovers the secrets behind everyday words. This is a celebration of our language; after reading it, you will never again take the words we use for granted.

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Praise for Dr Johnson's Dictionary: The Book that Defined the World

  • Hitchings offers us a highly entertaining guided tour...anyone interested in dictionaries, Dr Johnson or the English language will surely spend many happy hours with this book - The Independent

  • Ingenious and fascinating - The Sunday Times

  • Excellent. - Daily Express

  • Immensely enjoyable, easily erudite - Scotland On Sunday

  • I can warmly recommend Henry Hitching's book...affectionate in its portrayal of Johnson, the book itself is immensely likeable, written with serious intent and gentle good humour. - Spectator

  • Lively and entertaining - Observer

  • A pleasant stroll, with a genial guide, through Johnson's life - The Independent on Sunday

  • Clever, wittily-written and amusingly-arranged - The Guardian

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Henry Hitchings

Henry Hitchings was born in 1974. He has contributed to many newspapers and magazines, and is theatre critic for the Evening Standard.

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