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Publisher's Summary

A best-selling linguist takes us on a lively tour of how the English language is evolving before our eyes - and why we should embrace this transformation and not fight it.
Language is always changing - but we tend not to like it. We understand that new words must be created for new things, but the way English is spoken today rubs many of us the wrong way. Whether it's the use of literally to mean "figuratively" rather than "by the letter" or the way young people use LOL and like, or business jargon like what's the ask? - it often seems as if the language is deteriorating before our eyes.
But the truth is different and a lot less scary, as John McWhorter shows in this delightful and eye-opening exploration of how English has always been in motion and continues to evolve today. Drawing examples from everyday life and employing a generous helping of humor, he shows that these shifts are a natural process common to all languages and that we should embrace and appreciate these changes, not condemn them.
Words on the Move opens our eyes to the surprising backstories to the words and expressions we use every day. Did you know that silly once meant "blessed"? Or that ought was the original past tense of owe? Or that the suffix -ly in adverbs is actually a remnant of the word like? And have you ever wondered why some people from New Orleans sound as if they come from Brooklyn?
McWhorter encourages us to marvel at the dynamism and resilience of the English language, and his book offers a lively journey through which we discover that words are ever on the move, and our lives are all the richer for it.
©2016 John H. McWhorter (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By sgonk on 10-02-16

Literally A Great Listen

John McWhorter has an knack for explaining linguistic concepts engagingly. This time, he's focusing on how language changes over time--words changing meaning and pronunciation.

In a relatively short book, the reader/listener learns quite a bit. I also learned to relax a bit about the "right" way to say things. It still jars me to hear someone say, "I literally died!," but I don't get so irritated (or even aggravated).

The subject matter lends itself perfectly to the audio-book format, and McWhorter's narration is clear and enjoyable. I read some of the book, but it was so good to listen to that I didn't skip ahead after reading--I listened to the same parts that I had just read.

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37 of 41 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Cora on 03-30-18

McWhorter Explores Language

I really enjoy listening to John McWhorter's books and lectures. This book was well narrated and contained many fascinating facts about language, which I appreciate. John McWhorter's narrations are pleasant to listen to and consistently bring the subject covered to life.

The only negative comment that I can make is that I found the chapters lacking in clear organization. I felt they were not crisply themed and were a little rambling to follow. I did not enjoy that aspect of this book. However, that said, Words on the Move contained a good deal of engaging and helpful information. Speaking in defense of the slightly rambling organization, I might say that for some that style might evoke a conversational and informal feeling.

This book did not disappoint, overall. Even with the above noted limitations or really quibbles I enjoyed the book so much that I finished it at a much faster rate than normal. Recommended if you like reading about linguistics and how language changes over time.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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