The Eclectic Encyclopedia of English
Author: Nathan Bierma
Page Count: 288
Nathan Bierma’s free-ranging discussion of English language topics, culled from his "On Language" column in the Chicago Tribune, is just a bit out of the ordinary. Here you will get under the hood to find out what etymologists do to arrive at their conclusions (they get under the hood), look at dictionaries through the eyes of those who make them (and catch them making up a word to catch would-be word pirates), and ponder simple usage questions (lay or lie? bring or take? could care less or couldn’t care less?) in ways you may not have considered before. Nathan also fields questions from his readers and shows off some of the more interesting Australian slang, horse racing clichés, untranslatable terms, birding vocabulary, and lots more.
"Nathan Bierma is the best kind of language writer—good-humored, open to new ideas, and interested more in the ‘why?’ of language than the 'don'ts.' His writing imparts pleasure and knowledge in equal doses."
—Erin McKean, editor, New Oxford American Dictionary and Verbatim magazine
"Nathan Bierma has an uncanny ear for the language, and an engaging way of recounting its twists and foibles."
—Geoffrey Nunberg, NPR Commentator for Fresh Air; author of Going Nucular: Politics and Culture in Confrontational Times
"Bierma has been exceptionally careful in his research for stories involving language—starting by seeking out scholars who might have the information he’s looking for and then actually listening. So his columns are both informed and informative. Oh yes, and entertaining."
—Arnold Zwicky, past president, Linguistic Society of America