Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary

Author(s): David Crystal


Did you know that the English language has over 150 words for the adjective 'drunk' developed over 1,000 years? Be prepared to learn words you have never heard before, find out fascinating facts behind everyday words, and be surprised at how lively and varied the English language can be. Published to critical acclaim in 2009, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is the first comprehensive thesaurus in the world to arrange words by meaning in order of first recorded use. Using its unique perspective on how the English language has developed, Words in Time and Place takes 15 themes and explores the language in these areas over time - explaining when new words appeared, where they came from, and what such changes say about times in which they emerged. The themes chosen are varied, universal topics and show the semantic range of the thesaurus and what it can tell us about the words used in areas of everyday life. Learn about the different words for dying and money, or types of pop music, as well as words for a privy, oaths, and words for being drunk. Written by the world's leading expert on the English language, David Crystal, the book carries his trademark style of engaging yet authoritative writing. Each chapter features an introduction to the language of that topic, followed by a timeline of vocabulary taken from the historical thesaurus showing all the synonyms arranged in chronological order. The timelines are annotated with additional quotations, facts, and social and historical context to give a clear sense of how words entered the English language, when, and in which context they were used. Words in Time and Place showcases the unique and excellent resource that is the Historical Thesaurus and reveals the linguistic treasures to be found within. This fascinating book will appeal to anyone with an interest in words and in the development of the English language.


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David Crystal is known throughout the world as a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster on language. He has published extensively on the history and development of English, including The Stories of English (2004), Evolving English (2010), Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (2010), The Story of English in 100 Words (2011), Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling (2012), and Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain (with Hilary Crystal, 2013).

GENERAL INTRODUCTION ; WORDS IN TIME AND PLACE ; 1. From swelt to zonk: words for dying ; 2. From neb to hooter: words for nose ; 3. From cup-shot to rat-arsed: words for being drunk ; 4. From meatship to trough, and nuncheon to short-eat: words for a (light) meal ; 5. From gong to shitter, and closet to the House of Lords: words for a privy ; 6. From dizzy to numpty: words for a fool ; 7. From darling to lamb-chop: words of endearment ; 8. From lo to knickers, and aplight to sapristi: oaths and exclamations ; 9. From guest house to floatel: words for inns and hotels ; 10. From meretrix to parlor girl: words for a prostitute ; 11. From mint to dosh: words for money ; 12. From smolt to untempestuous and reigh to ugly: words for calm and stormy weather ; 13. From ealda to geriatric, bevar to poppa stoppa, and trot to old boot: words for old person, old man, old woman ; 14. From skiffle to grime: words for types of pop music ; 15. From astronaut to Skylab: words for spacecraft ; SYMBOLS AND ABBREVIATIONS ; GLOSSARY ; FURTHER READING AND SOURCES ; CHRONOLOGICAL INDEX OF WORDS ; CHRONOLOGICAL INDEX OF PEOPLE ; CHRONOLOGICAL INDEX OF GENERAL TOPICS

General Fields

  • : 9780199680474
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : August 2014
  • : October 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : David Crystal
  • : Hardback
  • : 304