Shakespeare’s Bawdy

all the Bard’s smut, indecency, and suggestiveness Eric Partridge was a maverick, self-taught Australian lexicographer. In addition to scholarly work on grammar and linguistics, he specialised in slang, swearing, and the colourful language of everyday life. In this classic work from 1941 he combines a study of ‘rude language’ with a scholarly reading of Shakespeare. […]

Filthy English

The How, Why, When, and What of Everyday Swearing Dictionaries of slang and obscenity are often disappointing, because they define terms but shy away from discussing exactly how they are used in everyday life. Filthy English does the opposite. Peter Silverton not only tells you what swear words mean, but he illustrates and analyses their […]

English Slang

the inventiveness of everyday language In this fairly hefty study of English slang (‘the people’s poetry’ as he calls it) Michael Adams is trying to bridge the gap between an academic study of linguistics and a populist approach to slang that merely lists recent coinages and their explanations or folk etymologies. He’s trying to make […]

Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English

dictionary of twentieth century slang terms This is basically a cut-down and updated version of Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English which was originally published in 1937 and is now in its eighth edition. This version contains only terms known to have arisen during the twentieth century, and 1,500 new terms have been […]

A Little Book of Nicknames

alternatives for the famous, notorious, and infamous Have you ever wondered where nicknames come from – or why we use them? You can find out here in this brisk and witty excursion into the stories behind the nicknames of hundreds of famous people, places, and institutions. It’s a combination of nicknames used in sport, politics, […]

Words Words Words

how language arises, changes, is recorded, and used David Crystal is a world-famous authority on language development, lexicography, linguistics, and anything else which concerns the words human beings use to speak and write. Words Words Words is the latest of his many books – an easy-to-read primer in which he attempts to convey his enthusiasm […]

Words (language skills)

beginner’s guide to language skills Did you know that there are between one and two million words in the English Language. It’s the biggest stockpile in any language, mainly because English has been forged from many other languages – including Latin, Greek, Anglo-Saxon, French and German. Most people know between 25,000—75,000 words, and John Seely’s […]

Word Origins

The hidden histories of English words from A to Z The average contemporary English speaker knows about 50,000 words. A large proportion of this total will actually be derived from Greek, Latin, French, and the Germanic languages. It is also estimated that every year, eight hundred neologisms are added to the English language. These include […]

Word Myths

debunking linguistic urban legends and false etymologies You know that the term posh comes from an acronym formed from the expression ‘port out, starboard home’? And that ‘the whole nine yards’ comes from the amount of fabric needed to make a kilt? Well you’re wrong: they don’t. This is a study of word myths and […]

Txtg: The Gr8 Db8

text messaging analysed, described, and defended Ever since Text messaging first began there have been moans and complaints that it was lowering standards of literacy, corrupting our youth, and bringing about the collapse of Western civilization. Even the normally rational John Sutherland, writing in the Guardian, complained about texting: Linguistically, it’s all pigs ear … […]