The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins

The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins

Anne Curzan / Aug 24, 2019

The Secret Life of Words English Words and Their Origins From new words such as bling and email to the role of text messaging and other electronic communications English is changing all around us Discover the secrets behind the words in our everyday lexico

  • Title: The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins
  • Author: Anne Curzan
  • ISBN:
  • Page: 291
  • Format: Audible Audio
  • From new words such as bling and email to the role of text messaging and other electronic communications, English is changing all around us Discover the secrets behind the words in our everyday lexicon with this delightful, informative survey of English, from its Germanic origins to the rise of globalization and cyber communications Professor Curzan approaches words From new words such as bling and email to the role of text messaging and other electronic communications, English is changing all around us Discover the secrets behind the words in our everyday lexicon with this delightful, informative survey of English, from its Germanic origins to the rise of globalization and cyber communications Professor Curzan approaches words like an archaeologist, digging below the surface to uncover the story of words, from the humble she to such SAT words as conflagration and pedimanous In these 36 fascinating lectures, you ll discover the history of the dictionary and how words make it into a reference book like the Oxford English Dictionary survey the borrowed words that make up the English lexicon find out how words are born and how they die expand your vocabulary by studying Greek and Latin word webs and revel in new terms, such as musquirt, adorkable, and struggle bus English is an omnivorous language and has borrowed heavily from the many languages it has come into contact with, from Celtic and Old Norse in the Middle Ages to the dozens of world languages in the truly global 20th and 21st centuries You ll be surprised to learn that the impulse to conserve pure English is nothing new In fact, if English purists during the Renaissance had their way, we would now be using Old English compounds such as flesh strings for muscles and bone lock for joint You may not come away using terms like whatevs or multislacking in casual conversation, but you ll love studying the linguistic system that gives us such irreverent and fun slang, from boy toy to cankles Get A Copy Kindle Store UKOnline StoresAudibleBarnes NobleWalmart eBooksGoogle PlayAbebooksBook DepositoryAlibrisBetter World BooksIndieBoundLibraries Or buy for Audible Audio Published July 8th 2013 by The Great Courses first published January 1st 2012 More Details ASIN B00DDVQUCA Edition Language English Other Editions None found All Editions Add a New Edition Combine Less Detail edit details Friend Reviews To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up Reader QA To ask other readers questions about The Secret Life of Words, please sign up

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    Lists with This Book This book is not yet featured on Listopia Add this book to your favorite list Community Reviews Showing 1 30 Rating details Sort Default Filter Oct 23, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it Shelves 2015 read, 2015 reviews, misc reference, reviewed Ultimately, despite the obvious erudition of the author, the lecturer of this book, despite her bouncy, entertaining delivery and my interest in the subject, the book fails The author failed me.There were two disappointing chapters One was on how words to do with women are weaker than those to do with men Contrast governor with governess , master and mistress and on how words for women are used as insults for men The most commonly used are, of course, son of a bitch, twat, pussy, mothe Ultimately, despite the obvious erudition of the author, the lecturer of this book, despite her bouncy, entertaining delivery and my interest in the subject, the book fails The author failed me.There were two disappointing chapters One was on how words to do with women are weaker than those to do with men Contrast governor with governess , master and mistress and on how words for women are used as insults for men The most commonly used are, of course, son of a bitch, twat, pussy, motherfucker and cunt Curzan refuses to say any of these words The second chapter was on those words, taboo words She refused to say any of them This is an academic lecture on words and she says F word She said she blushed when she said cock although of course it has two meanings I thought maybe she s really old, brought up in another time when those words in academic society were rarely used, but no, she s 46 and hears them everyday I felt really let down A word is only a word and this book is supposed to be discussing their etymology So where did cunt come from How did it change it s meaning if it did , when was it first used as an insult, what word did it replace Why couldn t she just have discussed that instead of pussyfooting which comes from the way a cat treads lightly and is not related to vagina, even if it sounds like it around with F words and P words.So I felt let down Other problems with the book was that I hadn t realised that this was about American English words and quite a few of the idioms were unfamiliar to me Curzan says that a great deal of words from baseball and other sports have made it into everyday language I got some of them not others Other than that, the book was very interesting It wasn t just old words that derive from Norse or Norman, but also new words that trace themselves to rock music or a tv programme The discussions of parts of speech and filler words that have no meaning but are necessary social constructs to oil the wheels of conversation such as uh , mmm hmmm , ok and so etc was something I d never thought of.So a great series of lectures Recommended, but with reservations.Written as I was reading the book view spoiler This is amazing Where words come from, how they change in sound, spelling and meaning over time How dictionaries are made Why Xerox, MacDonalds, BandAid and Scotch Tape among many others get solicitors letters to the dictionary editors before a new one is published Because they are brand names and if they ever wish to sue another company for using them, they have to prove they did due diligence in trying to keep them as proprietal trade names Why their is a B in doubt Why some dictionaries have in yadda yadda which is actually over 50 years old and some yadda yadda yadda and how bling bling didn t last but bling did And have Apple successfully introduced the word funnest into the accepted and used English language Not to mention that aks rather than being a modern, ethnic pronounciation of ask was actually probably the original, certainly Chaucer used and wrote it.And so much The only problem with this book is that no matter how I restrict myself, it is going to end It s one of those books, actually a set of audio lectures, that you want to go on for ever it is so interesting, entertaining and with many ah ha so that s why moments hide spoiler flag 92 likesLike see review View all 17 comments Aug 24, 2017 Amirography rated it it was amazing Shelves philosophy, favorites, by the bed books The course was rather funtastic One would not be tiered of the author, as they are rather interesting The material, as well, can be provokitive but it mostly confirmed what I suspected, and took it another level Also it showed me how amazing the English language is.The course does not cover the fundamentals of liguistics, it is what it claimes story behind english words flag 8 likesLike see review Jan 07, 2014 Ray Campbell rated it really liked it Shelves read 2014 I love words My friends will not be surprised at my sharing this aspect of my character I ve read several histories of the language, books on linguistics and words The Secret Life of Words is an excellent addition to my catalog of studies of our mother tongue Curzan provides an in depth analysis of the etymology of thousands of words while providing valuable insight on current usage After a historical perspective wherein Curzan establishes principals and concepts around the dynamics of lang I love words My friends will not be surprised at my sharing this aspect of my character I ve read several histories of the language, books on linguistics and words The Secret Life of Words is an excellent addition to my catalog of studies of our mother tongue Curzan provides an in depth analysis of the etymology of thousands of words while providing valuable insight on current usage After a historical perspective wherein Curzan establishes principals and concepts around the dynamics of language, she turns toward words grouped by various topics to make various points about not simply language, but the dynamics of language relative to culture, changing attitudes and usage I really liked this because while quite scholarly and authoritative, Curzan relates everything to current usage and draws examples to which it was easy to relate I found myself thinking ya, that s how I say that, so And, of course, Curzan would go on to explain, amuse and delight.If you like words and pick up books about words and language, this series of lectures is for you It is well structured, interesting and useful If you could couldn t care less a topic she covers , you may want to look elsewhere This is exactly what it purports to be a study of the origin and usage of words as well as an exploration of the principals that govern the scholarly study of words flag 5 likesLike see review Jan 20, 2018 Kelly rated it it was amazing Shelves education, nonfiction I listened to all 36 lessons in 3 days while we had no internet or television I loved this and wished that I could take her actual class Any reader, any lover of language, any teacher, any English major should read this book, or better yet, listen to the audio version I learned a great deal and there is a very good chance that I will listen to this course again flag 2 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Nov 11, 2018 Caroline rated it it was amazing Shelves audio books, read in 2018, linguistics An excellent series of lectures interesting, thoughtful, presented in a low key and accessible way An underlying theme is that language is an instrument of emotional and intuitive engagement This takes the course beyond an old fashioned analysis of language as a mapping of connotations, with a right and an incorrect way of expressing things flag 1 likeLike see review Mar 13, 2015 Barbara Gwinn edwards rated it really liked it This was actually a series of 36 lectures by Anne Curzan that I and my husband watched on DVD I read the lecture notes to reinforce the lectures Anne Curzan presented the very interesting information in an engaging and witty manner flag 1 likeLike see review Sep 17, 2015 Wendy rated it it was amazing Highly recommended for anyone who loves the English language or is interested in the history of words and communication Also a pretty good nudge for prescriptionists who are worried about the downfall of proper English flag 1 likeLike see review Sep 01, 2015 Mikki rated it really liked it I enjoyed it a lot, but perhaps because I m such a word nerd, interested in linguistics and history There are lots of revelations herehow our commonly used words and phrases began and evolved flag 1 likeLike see review Oct 16, 2017 Jack Hansen rated it really liked it Shelves cultural world, eductional, history, non fiction, reference guide, sociology, textbooks, cultural united kingdom A most interesting, scholarly but congenial presentation about the life and history of the English language and its words It is hard to pinpoint the exact time when English became a language and it is impossible to state how it fares in the future There is an array of other languages from which English borrows and Anglicizes Spoken English, itself, changes within its own region as shortcuts for phrases or polysyllabic words become part of the English lexicon What we recognize today as new Mo A most interesting, scholarly but congenial presentation about the life and history of the English language and its words It is hard to pinpoint the exact time when English became a language and it is impossible to state how it fares in the future There is an array of other languages from which English borrows and Anglicizes Spoken English, itself, changes within its own region as shortcuts for phrases or polysyllabic words become part of the English lexicon What we recognize today as new Modern English will eventually be of a Middle English which differs from Old English Anne Curzan narrates her own work in a structured course to a live audience She maturely handles the curse words, emotive words, with candor and does not exclude them from the discussion like certain dictionaries do, Webster s, for example She also includes sayings or phrases people use now as well as in the past Phrases responsible for many English words have their own intriguing history which are all but forgotten, unless one studies the English language This captures students interest and continues to excite many who find this subject both challenging and fascinating Today s language is rich with new technology, electronics, medicine, and entertainment lingo Avenues of communication are immediate and evolutionary with the advent of the Smartphone Change in English culture influences how one says something as much as what one says Curzan uses the term, Homosexual, as an example for carrying negative connotations whereas, Gay and Lesbian, are favorable terms for the same expression This course is comprehensive and loaded with information worthy of study One must listen and review this excellent presentation to fully appreciate all it has to offer flag Like see review Feb 02, 2019 Sarah rated it really liked it Shelves language, non fiction This is a lecture series of 36 half hour lectures It can be found in audio book form but I chose to watch it I think it was beneficial to see the words, etc on the screen as well as various helpful photos I would highly recommend this series to anyone who is fascinated by the English language I got a little bored in places that were heavy on modern usage because I find that less interesting than the history of words and how they have evolved Overall a great series flag Like see review Oct 01, 2017 Fates Lady rated it it was amazing What a fascinating look at how we use language, why we say some of the weird things we say, and where so many of our words come from This book was perfection, and the lecturer was pleasant and easy to listen to flag Like see review Jul 07, 2017 Tracey rated it it was amazing Likely the nerdiest thing I ve ever read, and I loved every minute of it flag Like see review Jul 15, 2018 Teresa Keatts rated it really liked it Shelves audiobook, educational Audio listen Learned much from this great course The English language has always fascinated me flag Like see review Sep 21, 2018 Chad Schultz rated it it was amazing Interesting anecdotes about the history of the English language and of specific words flag Like see review Mar 06, 2017 Travis rated it liked it Shelves audiobook, language, non fiction, lecture series This was a fun and interesting lecture series There were parts that were familiar to me, but other things that were new flag Like see review May 31, 2014 Laurel rated it it was amazing Shelves non fiction, audio courses, linguistics Loved it This is a very thorough 18 hours long , informative and fun look at the history and evolution of the English language how a variety of words and phrases came into being and how they changed in terms of sound, spelling and meaning over time One surprising and somewhat ironic tidbit I learned is the fact that the highly frowned upon mispronunciation of the word aks is actually closer to the original word for ask, which was axe I also learned how many common, modern day words used t Loved it This is a very thorough 18 hours long , informative and fun look at the history and evolution of the English language how a variety of words and phrases came into being and how they changed in terms of sound, spelling and meaning over time One surprising and somewhat ironic tidbit I learned is the fact that the highly frowned upon mispronunciation of the word aks is actually closer to the original word for ask, which was axe I also learned how many common, modern day words used to have completely different meanings nice used to mean silly, and awful used to mean what it looks like it should mean full of awe I could go on and on about all the interesting tidbits in this book, from the meaning behind popular phrases, how words were borrowed from various languages, how some words caught on and how others seemed to die, why we all often seem to want to add a p to the word hamster hamptser , how there is often a gender and even political biases in the terms we use, and so on Highly recommend to all fellow word nerds flag Like see review Mar 22, 2018 Alex Shrugged rated it it was amazing Shelves education, non fiction, reviewed books I am a history buff and this is mostly about the history of words I m in heaven.Any modesty problems There is one lecture that covers vulgar words and another that covers forbidden words like the N Word Although the Professor is reluctant to use vulgar language, it is part of most people s normal conversation She will use the F word when she must, but then reverts to using the euphemism, the F word, once it is clear what she is talking about The same is true with other vulgar words In I am a history buff and this is mostly about the history of words I m in heaven.Any modesty problems There is one lecture that covers vulgar words and another that covers forbidden words like the N Word Although the Professor is reluctant to use vulgar language, it is part of most people s normal conversation She will use the F word when she must, but then reverts to using the euphemism, the F word, once it is clear what she is talking about The same is true with other vulgar words In fact there are some words she is so embarrassed to say that her voice catches Nevertheless, she pushes on The lecture on slang is a little dicey, but that is what slang is This is my second reading I want to buy this course I could listen to it over and over again I m still hearing new things flag Like see review Oct 16, 2015 Katie Cunningham rated it it was amazing Shelves audiobooks, non fiction If you re a linguistics nerd, this is the Great Course for you.I found myself zoning out at some parts because she would go into the linguist nerd territory, listing out a dozen words and where they came from While these parts often lost me after the second word, I don t fault her for doing this Many linguistic lovers LOVE This, and it was used to back up the material for that section.I was grabbed by the later lectures, which focused less on individual words and on movements within If you re a linguistics nerd, this is the Great Course for you.I found myself zoning out at some parts because she would go into the linguist nerd territory, listing out a dozen words and where they came from While these parts often lost me after the second word, I don t fault her for doing this Many linguistic lovers LOVE This, and it was used to back up the material for that section.I was grabbed by the later lectures, which focused less on individual words and on movements within modern English, colloquialisms, and general concepts in Linguistics If you re familiar with the basics, you might just skip the first 12 or so lectures.One note She speaks slowly, so I sped her up to 1.5x speed This helped quite a bit, and didn t turn her into a chipmunk flag Like see review Oct 11, 2016 Medhansu rated it really liked it I definitely want to re read this I am not overly thrilled with the narration but the content is fascinating.My only complaint as it were is that at the end I m a bit confused about what can be considered acceptable or correct English For every solecism we encounter today the professor seems to provide an escape clause under the overarching the language is constantly changing, what was wrong yesterday is right today, so what seems wrong today might well be right tomorrow.Should I stop fussin I definitely want to re read this I am not overly thrilled with the narration but the content is fascinating.My only complaint as it were is that at the end I m a bit confused about what can be considered acceptable or correct English For every solecism we encounter today the professor seems to provide an escape clause under the overarching the language is constantly changing, what was wrong yesterday is right today, so what seems wrong today might well be right tomorrow.Should I stop fussing about your you re or lie lay flag Like see review Jun 22, 2014 Victoria Mclaren bell rated it it was ok I appreciate the constant change in our English language I only listened to two if the DVDs and had to shut it off All I kept thinking was, my English professors would have been horrified at her easy attitude towards new words, especially colloquial language and slang Bling Clillaxing Yuck flag Like see review View 1 comment Feb 22, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it amusing rather than profound no doubt a popular soft course at university it could have been entitled gems from oed organized by theme flag Like see review Feb 01, 2017 Tim rated it really liked it Shelves history excellent lectures full of interesting tidbits at every turn flag Like see review Jun 11, 2016 Saltwater Swill rated it really liked it Very digestible introduction to English language history, etymology, diversity, and absurdity flag Like see review Jul 09, 2014 Leonard rated it it was amazing This was fascinating and very informative I may have to own it, and I can t wait to listen to it again Definitely very worthwhile listening to flag Like see review May 26, 2014 Erick Njenga rated it really liked it Very interesting insight into the origin of words flag Like see review Jul 19, 2015 Heidi rated it really liked it Shelves read audible Thought provoking flag Like see review Jan 10, 2017 Phillip rated it really liked it Shelves audio book, linguistics, literature, media, mind, popular culture, psychology, rhetoric, writing This is an entertaining and informative tour of the history of English words The professor presents well and is well informed I really like it flag Like see review Feb 17, 2015 Nate rated it it was amazing Shelves language linguistics Fascinating histories and perspective on the rich linguistic heritage of the English language flag Like see review Natalie rated it it was amazing Oct 21, 2018 Deb rated it it was amazing May 15, 2015 previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 next new topicDiscuss This Book There are no discussion topics on this book yet Be the first to start one Share Recommend It Stats 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    About "Anne Curzan"

      • Anne Curzan

        Anne Curzan Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins book, this is one of the most wanted Anne Curzan author readers around the world.


    265 Comments

    1. Ultimately, despite the obvious erudition of the author, the lecturer of this book, despite her bouncy, entertaining delivery and my interest in the subject, the book fails The author failed me.There were two disappointing chapters One was on how words to do with women are weaker than those to do with men Contrast governor with governess , master and mistress and on how words for women are used as insults for men The most commonly used are, of course, son of a bitch, twat, pussy, mothe Ultimatel [...]


    2. The course was rather funtastic One would not be tiered of the author, as they are rather interesting The material, as well, can be provokitive but it mostly confirmed what I suspected, and took it another level Also it showed me how amazing the English language is.The course does not cover the fundamentals of liguistics, it is what it claimes story behind english words.


    3. I love words My friends will not be surprised at my sharing this aspect of my character I ve read several histories of the language, books on linguistics and words The Secret Life of Words is an excellent addition to my catalog of studies of our mother tongue Curzan provides an in depth analysis of the etymology of thousands of words while providing valuable insight on current usage After a historical perspective wherein Curzan establishes principals and concepts around the dynamics of lang I lo [...]


    4. I listened to all 36 lessons in 3 days while we had no internet or television I loved this and wished that I could take her actual class Any reader, any lover of language, any teacher, any English major should read this book, or better yet, listen to the audio version I learned a great deal and there is a very good chance that I will listen to this course again.


    5. An excellent series of lectures interesting, thoughtful, presented in a low key and accessible way An underlying theme is that language is an instrument of emotional and intuitive engagement This takes the course beyond an old fashioned analysis of language as a mapping of connotations, with a right and an incorrect way of expressing things.


    6. This was actually a series of 36 lectures by Anne Curzan that I and my husband watched on DVD I read the lecture notes to reinforce the lectures Anne Curzan presented the very interesting information in an engaging and witty manner.


    7. Highly recommended for anyone who loves the English language or is interested in the history of words and communication Also a pretty good nudge for prescriptionists who are worried about the downfall of proper English.


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