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Extended Audio Sample Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries Audiobook, by Kory Stamper Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kory Stamper Narrator: Kory Stamper Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2017 ISBN: 9781524776152
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Do you have strong feelings about the word “irregardless”? Have you ever tried to define the word “is”? Brimming with intelligence and personality, this vastly entertaining account of how dictionaries are made is a must-read for word mavens.

Many of us take dictionaries for granted, and few may realize that the process of writing dictionaries is, in fact, as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. And along the way, she reveals little-known surprises—for example, the fact that “OMG” was first used in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917.

Word by Word brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a startlingly rich world inhabited by quirky and erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. Certain to be a delight for all lovers of words, Stamper’s debut will make you laugh as much as it makes you appreciate the wonderful complexities and eccentricities of the English language. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • As a writer, Kory Stamper can do anything with words: define them, split them, lump them, agglute them, and make them work for her every bit as ferociously and precisely as she works for them in her day job as a far from mild-mannered lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. You will never take a dictionary entry for granted again. Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me
  • [M]arvelous insight into the messy world behind the tidy definitions on the page... Lexicography is not sexy, but in this spirited book about the science and art of making dictionaries, it is by turns amusing, frustrating, surprising, and above all, engrossing. It is perhaps unsurprising, given her line of work, that Stamper employs words with delightful precision in her writing. What is surprising is how enjoyable she makes reading about the drudgery of dictionary making. Seen through Stamper’s eyes, a dictionary is not only a reference source, but also a living linguistic record and a window into history. Bridget Thoreson, Booklist
  • Excellent… [A] love letter to letters themselves... An eloquent defense of a 'live and let live' approach to English… A cheerful and thoughtful rebuke of the cult of the grammar scolds… A spirited defense of the messiness and experimentation that allows a language to thrive as a tool for human communication. Stamper [is] a wry and charming correspondent... Word by Word is, like a dictionary itself, a composite affair: It’s a memoir that is also an explanation of the work that writing a dictionary entails…an erudite and loving and occasionally profane history of the English language. Megan Garber, The Atlantic
  • [A] well-designed volume… Charming…told in Stamper’s fresh and funny voice. Hungry word lovers will find this book a delicious, multicourse meal of word lore… A satisfying dip in the ocean of words and a thoughtful consideration of current American English and dictionaries. Library Journal (Starred Review)
  • As a writer, Kory Stamper can do anything with words: define them, split them, lump them, agglute them, and make them work for her every bit as ferociously and precisely as she works for them in her day job as a far from mild-mannered lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. You will never take a dictionary entry for granted again. Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me
  • Delightful… Unforgettable… A gloriously (occasionally even uproariously) well written book. Stevie Godson, New York Journal of Books
     
  • Excellent… [A] love letter to letters themselves... [A]n erudite and loving and occasionally profane history of the English language. Stamper [is] a wry and charming correspondent. Megan Garber, The Atlantic
     
  • Charming…told in Stamper’s fresh and funny voice. Hungry word lovers will find this book a delicious, multicourse meal of word lore. Library Journal (Starred Review)
  • Witty, sly… Stamper corrals [words] to her purpose with such aplomb that readers might just feel like applauding. For those who love language, this debut…will be a delectable feast. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
  • An unlikely page-turner… Offering a nuts-and-bolts exploration of the English language, Stamper displays a contagious enthusiasm for words and a considerable talent for putting them together… Her discussion of the role of language in culture is illuminating, and she is a reliable guide to such issues as the tension between a dictionary’s descriptive and prescriptive roles. The New Yorker
     
  • Cherishes the dexterity involved in making dictionaries… refreshingly attentive to its human stories. Henry Hitchings, The Wall Street Journal
     
  • A fascinating peek behind the process… Part memoir, part workplace chronicle and part history lesson. Reed Tucker, The New York Post
  • A captivating inside look at the job of dictionary making from both a personal and historical angle… A very cool, very not boring inside world of dictionary making. Arika Okrent, Mental Floss
  • Delightful… Unforgettable… A gloriously (occasionally even uproariously) well written book, and unsurprisingly erudite. Kory Stamper… offers an informed, irreverent and witty take on it all. She not only lifts the curtain to let us peek behind the semantic scenes, she also lets us in on all sorts of lesser known linguistic history… Do read this book. Stevie Godson, New York Journal of Books
  • A pleasant, yet realistic, view of the challenges that come with working at one of the best-known dictionary publishers out there. Jillian Capewell, Huffington Post
  • Entertains as much as it instructs… informal, funny. John E. McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun
  • Excellent… [A] love letter to letters themselves... An eloquent defense of a ‘live and let live’ approach to English… A cheerful and thoughtful rebuke of the cult of the grammar scoldsA spirited defense of the messiness and experimentation that allows a language to thrive as a tool for human communication. Stamper [is] a wry and charming correspondent... Word by Word is, like a dictionary itself, a composite affair: It’s a memoir that is also an explanation of the work that writing a dictionary entails… an erudite and loving and occasionally profane history of the English language. Megan Garber, The Atlantic
  • Charming… told in Stamper’s fresh and funny voice. Hungry word lovers will find this book a delicious, multicourse meal of word lore… A satisfying dip in the ocean of words and a thoughtful consideration of current American English and dictionaries. Library Journal (starred review)
     
  • Neatily and wittily covers grammar… A smart, sparkling and often hilarious valentine to the content and keepers of dictionaries. Most people use a dictionary with little thought given to the genesis of definitions, or their maintenance. Stamper pulls back the curtain in Word by Word. Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness for Readers
  • [Stamper] loves her work, and her enthusiasm adds a real zest to her tales of usage… Big-time Scrabble fans will love this book. Kirkus
  • A witty, sly, occasionally profane behind-the-scenes tour aimed at deposing the notion of ‘real and proper English’… Stamper corrals [words] to her purpose with such aplomb that readers might just feel like applauding. For those who love language, this debut… will be a delectable feast. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
     
  • [M]arvelous insight into the messy world behind the tidy definitions on the page... Lexicography is not sexy, but in this spirited book about the science and art of making dictionaries, it is by turns amusing, frustrating, surprising, and above all, engrossing. It is perhaps unsurprising, given her line of work, that Stamper employs words with delightful precision in her writing. What is surprising is how enjoyable she makes reading about the drudgery of dictionary making. Seen through Stamper’s eyes, a dictionary is not only a reference source, but also a living linguistic record and a window into history. Bridget Thoreson, Booklist
     
  • As a writer, Kory Stamper can do anything with words: define them, split them, lump them, agglute them, and make them work for her every bit as ferociously and precisely as she works for them in her day job as a far from mild-mannered lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. You will never take a dictionary entry for granted again. Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me
     
  • A love letter to letters themselves... A cheerful and thoughtful rebuke of the cult of the grammar scolds. Stamper [is] a wry and charming correspondent. Word by Word is, like a dictionary itself, a composite affair: It’s a memoir that is also an explanation of the work that writing a dictionary entails. Megan Garber, The Atlantic
  • An unlikely page-turner…Stamper displays a contagious enthusiasm for words...Illuminating. The New Yorker
  • Delightful… Informed, irreverent and witty…A gloriously (occasionally even uproariously) well written book, and unsurprisingly erudite. Do read [Word by Word]. Stevie Godson, New York Journal of Books
  • As a writer, Kory Stamper can do anything with words: define them, split them, lump them, agglute them, and make them work for her every bit as ferociously and precisely as she works for them in her day job as a far from mild-mannered lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. You will never take a dictionary entry for granted again. Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me 
  • Neatly and wittily covers grammar… A smart, sparkling and often hilarious valentine to the content and keepers of dictionaries. Most people use a dictionary with little thought given to the genesis of definitions, or their maintenance. Stamper pulls back the curtain in Word by Word. Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness for Readers
  • A satisfying dip in the ocean of words and a thoughtful consideration of current American English and dictionaries. Hungry word lovers will find this book a delicious, multicourse meal of word lore... The real appeal is in the charming stories of the words and the personally guided tour of the Merriam-Webster editorial process, told in Stamper’s fresh and funny voice. Library Journal (Starred Review)
  • As a writer, Kory Stamper can do anything with words: define them, split them, lump them, agglute them, and make them work for her every bit as ferociously and precisely as she works for them in her day job as a far from mild-mannered lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. You will never take a dictionary entry for granted again. Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me 
  • As a writer, Kory Stamper can do anything with words: define them, split them, lump them, agglute them, and make them work for her every bit as ferociously and precisely as she works for them in her day job as a far from mild-mannered lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. You will never take a dictionary entry for granted again. Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me 
  • A witty, sly, occasionally profane behind-the-scenes tour aimed at deposing the notion of ‘real and proper English’… Stamper corrals [words] to her purpose with such aplomb that readers might just feel like applauding. For those who love language, this debut…will be a delectable feast. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
  • A witty, sly, occasionally profane behind-the-scenes tour aimed at deposing the notion of 'real and proper English'… Stamper corrals [words] to her purpose with such aplomb that readers might just feel like applauding. For those who love language, this debut…will be a delectable feast. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
  • [Stamper] loves her work, and her enthusiasm adds a real zest to her tales of usage… Big-time Scrabble fans will love this book. Kirkus
  • A witty, sly, occasionally profane behind-the-scenes tour aimed at deposing the notion of 'real and proper English'… Stamper corrals [words] to her purpose with such aplomb that readers might just feel like applauding. For those who love language, this debut…will be a delectable feast. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
  • [M]arvelous insight into the messy world behind the tidy definitions on the page... Lexicography is not sexy, but in this spirited book about the science and art of making dictionaries, it is by turns amusing, frustrating, surprising, and above all, engrossing. It is perhaps unsurprising, given her line of work, that Stamper employs words with delightful precision in her writing. What is surprising is how enjoyable she makes reading about the drudgery of dictionary making. Seen through Stamper’s eyes, a dictionary is not only a reference source, but also a living linguistic record and a window into history. Bridget Thoreson, Booklist
  • [Stamper] loves her work, and her enthusiasm adds a real zest to her tales of usage… Big-time Scrabble fans will love this book. Kirkus
  • An Amazon Editor’s Top Pick for March 2017
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