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Words on the Move MP3 CD – MP3 Audio, November 15, 2016
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MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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- Publisher : Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (November 15, 2016)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1536623644
- ISBN-13 : 978-1536623642
- Item Weight : 3.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 0.63 x 5.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,259,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Each chapter is devoted to exploring different ways that language changes. First, we talk about those little known pragmatic functions of language where a lot of change happens; words like "like" or "you know," are words that are less meant to convey an idea and more to add pragmatic and expressive color to sentences. Language needs those expressive words (or...emojis?) and words like that are not extraneous.
Words also change their pronunciations, and this often has to do with very gradual changes in how people hear (and thus speak) certain words. The word "like" used to be pronounced "leek" and one can understand how the "hard e" could gradually change into a "soft e" which becomes a "hard i." (And have you ever noticed how the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill rhymes "daughter" with "after"? There's a reason; the spelling didn't change but the pronunciation did.)
Words also change by combining and sometimes, after combining, dropping one of the syllables entirely. Again, the word "like" (pronounced "leek") used to be attached to adjectives like "slow" ("slow-leek" meaning "slow like"), until at some point, people heard it as "slowly" And more recently, "cellular phone" becomes "cell phone" which gets shortened further by dropping the word "phone" and just saying "cell."
There are many more examples like this, each quite fascinating. But the moral of McWhorter's language story is that words, meanings, grammars, and pronunciations always change. Language is a sort of living thing that we collectively create and recreate. And if you think that your version of language is the "correct" one and that "that's not what ___ is supposed to mean," there is an excellent chance that you are using words and language in a way that the same would have been said about you by purists of the 1850's. The only reason we think the way we speak is the correct way is because that's the way we learned it.
He has some understanding but trips on other things. His first topic is "well" as used to initiate innocuous questions from children. He says it is about attitude instead of dialogue with 'well' judging the legitimacy of the query.
The next topic is must originally shifting from a command to certainty. But he misses that must comes from musk. And that it is still a command in his example. I stopped there.
“Did you know that the adverbial -ly comes from like?”
“Those little words we use to smooth the cracks in conversation? They’re mostly there to acknowledge the feelings of the person who just spoke.”
“What’s happening with ‘literally’ already happened to ‘really.’”
Rather than blurting out these ideas, a better choice would be to recommend they read the book. (And if they like it, they should also listen to his podcast on Slate.)
The author has a terrific sense of humor, is a great writer, and has an ability to explain things in a way made this book hard for me to put down.
Top reviews from other countries
1. I opened the door and it was, like, her! (reinforcing like)
2. This is, like, the only way to make it work. (easing like)
3. And she was like, “I didn’t even invite him.” (quotative like)
3の用法はMerriam-Webster’s Advanced Learner’s English Dictionaryにも出ているので、すでに一部の英和辞典にも採用されている。どれも原義「like(～のような)」から推測しにくい語法なので詳しくは本書をご覧いただきたい。どの用法も若者言葉に端を発するようで普及度は分からないが日本語の「みたいな」（たとえば、あるライトノベルにあった例「逆に落ち着いて食べる暇が無い！みたいな！！まぁ！嬉しい悲鳴！ってヤツですかね！！」）とどこか共通するところがある「みたいな」感じで興味深い。英語の語法に興味のある方にお勧めする。