Review – Word by Word

Posted June 7, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Word by Word by Kory StamperWord by Word, Kory Stamper

Ahhh, I really loved this book. Kory Stamper works for Merriam-Webster, the dictionary, and her work has been focused on words. Reading to find context and new usage for words, obsessively logging new usages she sees in the wild, and painstakingly combing through proofs to prepare new editions of the dictionary. She manages to make it sound fascinating, sometimes while breaking down some processes which are probably even more tedious in reality than they sound in her account, and throughout she has a sense of humour and a real enthusiasm for her work and what it means to people that made reading about it very enjoyable.

It’s the kind of book where I found myself reading bits out to my wife, just to share the sheer glee about some of the anecdotes mentioned… like how they figure out whether a verb is transitive (does it fit if you lay over a piece of paper saying “I’mma _____ your ass”, with the ____ being a blank space for the word you’re trying to parse?).

I loved it. Kory Stamper seems pretty great.

Rating: 4/5

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