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Word Spy
The Word Lover's Guide to Modern Culture
Written by Paul McFedries

Word Spy
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Category: Reference - Word Lists
Imprint: Broadway Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: February 2004
Price: $23.00
Can. Price: $29.95
ISBN: 978-0-7679-1466-6 (0-7679-1466-X)
Pages: 432
Also available as an eBook.



 
"...impressively wide-ranging, featuring neologisms drawn from English newspapers and magazines around the world as well as from fiction, nonfiction, and popular music." —Library Journal

Language wears many hats, but its most important job is to help us name or describe what's in the world. Words define us, our actions, even our existence. And just when it seems that we have all the words we need, we hear new uses for old ones or see words mutate right before our eyes—a neologism is born.

Those neologisms are actually one of the best ways of keeping tabs on the way our world and culture are changing. One of the people who's been keeping tabs is Paul McFedries, the president of Logophilia Limited (logophilia is Greek for "the love of words"). His scorecard is Word Spy, a daily newsletter that has been reporting from the neological frontier since 1998 and that has more than 100,000 visitors a month and more than 12 million page views.

In his new book Word Spy, McFedries demonstrates how new words both reflect and illuminate not only the subcultures that coin them but also the larger culture in which these groups exist. Neologisms give insight into the way things are even as they act as linguistic harbingers of what's to come.

Each chapter of Word Spy is a cultural snapshot, a slice of the zeitgeist that focuses on a specific idea or sociological phenomenon, with an emphasis on the words and phrases that it has generated. These snapshots cover various aspects of modern life, including relationships, business, technology, war, aging, multiculturalism, and even fast food, all the while introducing us to hybrid words: If your kids can't seem to get away from their computers, they may be addicted to "fritterware" (time-wasting game software). If you're a new mother with a passion for petitioning, you may be a "lactivist" (breast-feeding activist). And if you keep finding yourself staying way later at the office than you ever imagined, you may be suffering from "presenteeism."

Word Spy is an inventive and informative travelogue through the evolving landscape of the English language and, consequently, the cultures and subcultures that continually mold and shape not just the language but all of us who speak it.

“Paul McFedries’s obvious passion for tracking down cutting-edge expressions had led to a fascinating linguistic commentary for those of us who ought to know a ‘leather spinster’ from a ‘weddingmoon.’ He opens the reader’s eyes and ears to a new language that continues to emerge.” -Jeffrey Kacirk, author of Forgotten English and The Word Museum.

"Thanks to the internet, new words are being coined and disseminated at lightning speed, and McFedries proves to be a knowledgeable guide to the 'neological frenzy'." -Booklist (American Library Association)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 
PAUL McFEDRIES is the creator of Logophilia Limited and has written more than forty books that have sold over 2.3 million copies worldwide. These books include many titles in the Complete Idiot's Guide series, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Smart Vocabulary.





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