* The Story of Ain’t by David Skinner


I love words, I like dictionaries, and I still remember receiving a child’s dictionary for my fifth birthday as a delightful event, so I thought that I might enjoy The Story of Ain’t: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published, which describes the event surrounding the creation and launch of the third edition of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, which (in)famoulsly included the word ain’t without automatically branding it as colloquial.

I’m sorry to report that the politics of lexicography are as dull as you think they are. Even the hysterical journalistic reaction to the new dictionary seemed dull. The only part of the book I found of interest was the very brief account of how very arduous the physical work of collating the words, definitions, and citations was. They could have used a good computer, for sure!

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