The Last Word: Tales from the Tip of the Mother Tongue by Ben Macintyre
Do you know your geek-speak from your geek-chic? Ever wanted to put Humpty Dumpty together again? Can you distinguish Spanglish from Chinglish? We adapt words from other languages, from slang, from developments in science, literature and art. Often, we adopt them from a bright yellow and deeply dysfunctional television cartoon family called The Simpsons. D'oh!, Homer's grunt of irritation at each successive failure, has now entered the Oxford English Dictionary and it was Homer who also created sacrilicious, which so precisely captures the pleasure of being rude about someone else's religious beliefs. This is a collection of pieces that will tease, tickle and tantalise those who enjoy all things lexical. Learn the advantages of having your own signature word; Boris Johnson has come up with 'bemerded' or 'to be fouled by a dog', even though the word doesn't actually exist; the significance of lifts with middle-class, 1930s accents and what reviewers really mean when they say exhaustive (exhausting), compelling (I managed to finish it), detailed (has footnotes) and richly detailed (has lots of footnotes). Explore what classic texts may have been like had they been given happier endings: Madame Bovary gets her man, Hamlet finds a shrink, marries Ophelia and goes into insurance. Godot actually turns up. Witty, profound and utterly delightful, The Last Word is a collection of delicious morsels that celebrate the richness, ridiculousness and resilience of language.