Explorations in Language
Wordscapes: Explorations in Language conveys readers on a comprehensive and entertaining linguistic gambol through the diverse components of our evolving language.
Wordscapes prisms words to reveal their spectral facets, investigating such sundry elements as their curious origins, their semantic changes, and their baffling quirks. In addition, Wordscapes explores how we use words—from the like awesome realm of fadspeak and the pretentious embellishments of buzzwords, to the smoke-screen domain of bafflegab and the sugarcoated world of euphemism.
This survey of our word panorama is presented in an unconventional, engaging, and visually appealing format; each page is a montage, enticing the eyes to land on islands of information—linguistic probes which serve to explain, juxtapose, complement, and reinforce. Every page serves a linguistic ragout of ingredients that will fascinate, amuse, and educate.
Wordscapes investigates the biology of words. Whether used as tools or weapons, words are humankind’s most significant and most potent invention. We have given words a morality, a sociology, and a psychology. Words induce laughter, incite anger, instill hope, inflict pain, and inspire love. We use words to heal, motivate, manipulate, and deceive. They haunt and taunt; amuse and bemuse. Because of their power, words and the uses to which we put them, warrant the scrutiny they are given in Wordscapes.
Not one of the books currently on the market encompasses the variety of content contained in Wordscapes. Other books focus on a specific aspect of words, a single ingredient in the linguistic salmagundi. There are books about euphemisms, slang, etymologies, or clichés; there are books that focus on eggcorns, snowclones, or mondegreens; there are books exploring eponyms, contronyms, retronyms, or bacronyms; and there are books about fadspeak, sportspeak, buzzspeak, or doublespeak.
Wordscapes has all of these. And much more.
Religious to secular
Sexism in language
Singular and plural
Sound and sense
Smitten with words a lifetime ago while an English major at the University of Toronto, Robert’s logophilia soon became a consuming avocation as well as the nucleus of his professional endeavors—high school English teacher, writer, editor, and writing consultant. Wordscapes is the result of extensive research spanning over 35 years. The story of its genesis is noteworthy. Wordscapes’s first incarnation was as a 30-page Xeroxed duo-tang booklet assembled for a unit on words in the author’s senior creative writing class. From the outset the word unit, presented in the same mosaic format, spawned considerable interest, and surprisingly, even from some of his most reluctant students. Indeed, a curious behavior began—the booklets began disappearing. This pilfering became a trend over the years and the author realized that filching, not imitation, was the sincerest form of flattery. That the purloined books found their way to the students’ parents is attested by the number of word-related conversations initiated by them during phone calls and on parent-teacher nights. Realizing that the material was appealing to two distinct generations, the author began to envisage the present volume.