Oxford Guide to Word Games

puzzles, puns, acrostics, charades, and palindromes If you like words, wordplay, and peculiarities of the English Language, you’ll love The Oxford Guide to Word Games. What is the difference between elephants and fleas? Answer: an elephant can have fleas, but fleas cannot have elephants. Each chapter deals with a different play on words – ranging […]

Oxford A-Z of Spelling

beginner’s guide to the basics of good spelling Did you know that yogurt can also be spelled yoghurt or even yoghourt? All three are correct. English spelling is notoriously irregular and can be downright difficult. It’s because our huge vocabulary (the world’s biggest) is made up of words from so many other languages. Don’t feel […]

New Media Language

new forms of language, rhetoric, and communication This is a collection of papers given at a conference on ‘Language, Media, and International Communication’ at Oxford University. The contributions are from academics and journalists, and the best thing about them is that they are interestingly varied in topic and approach. Issues discussed include the manner in […]

Mother Tongue

English language – its history and peculiarities If you are interested in language, this is the sort of book which will both entertain you and stimulate you to learn more. Bill Bryson re-tells the history of the English language in a way which is both amusing and well-informed. His account is shot through with a […]

Literacy in the New Media Age

theoretical study of writing in the digital age This is an investigation of the effect of new media on what Gunter Kress calls ‘alphabetic writing’. He is arguing that multimedia and the screen are starting to challenge the page as the natural medium of writing – and that this in turn is affecting the way […]

In Other Words

a language lover’s guide to intriguing foreign words This is a book for people who love words – no matter what their origin. In Other Words collects some of the most intriguing and peculiar expressions from countries around the globe for which there are no easy English equivalents. There is an expression in Japanese for […]


a hodgepodge of our vanishing vocabulary Michael Quinion is a word nerd. He’s an expert on obscure terms, word etymologies, and the origins of strange expressions. His last book Port Out, Starboard Home discusses myths and false explanations for the meanings of well known sayings, and he runs an excellent compilation of lexical back-history at […]

Effective Writing and Speaking

skills for speaking, writing, and presenting John Seely is something of a specialist in writing guides to clear, efficient communication skills. This is one of a number of books he has published with Oxford University Press, and it’s a much-expanded version of his earlier Oxford Guide to Writing and Speaking. It covers how to structure […]

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

a radical defense of traditional punctuation rules Who would have thought it! A book on punctuation at the top of the best-seller lists. The title refers to joke about a panda who goes into a cafe, orders a sandwich, then pulls out a gun and fires it. The panda had read an encyclopedia entry on […]

Damp Squid: English Laid Bare

how language is changing – and why Truth be told, this is quite an advanced book on language use written from deep within the research vaults of the English linguistic history, but it’s written in a language that most people will be able to understand. Behind the apparently frivolous and amusing selection of examples in […]