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Spelling Dearest: The Down and Dirty, Nitty-Gritty History of English Spelling [Paperback]

Niall McLeod Waldman
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

15 July 2004
Most people with any interest in the English language know that it has the worst alphabetic spelling system in the world. What they don't know in any great detail, however, is how this sorry situation came about. They don't know, for instance, that a 17th-century English schoolmaster named Edmund Coote had a major role. And they might be surprised at the parts played by greed, intentional complexity, and downright blunders. With this in mind, Niall McLeod Waldman has written Spelling Dearest. This book chronicles, in an irreverent and satirical way, the major happenings and minor annoyances that together form the history of English spelling. Starting with the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England in the fifth century, the book threads its way through such noted historical events as the Renaissance, the Great Vowel Shift, and the birth of the American dictionary. It shows the links spelling has with great individuals such as Noah Webster and Ben Franklin. And not-so-great individuals such as Angus McLaughlin, who once said about English spelling, "If it were any better, it would be rotten." Scattered throughout the book are illustrative charts, transcripts of famous documents, and comical caricatures of the key people involved in this intriguing history. Spelling Dearest is informative, insightful, outrageously contemptuous, and witty. It was written to appeal to anyone who enjoys the challenge of, or has been frustrated by, English spelling - which covers just about everyone who can read or write! A must-read for English language, history, or humor buffs.

Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse (15 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1418453307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1418453305
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.7 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,484,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2.0 out of 5 stars Nice video - shame about the song 30 Aug 2010
By T. Russell VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book has an excellent and useful bibliography and most informative notes - hence the two stars. The actual content of the book, however, has little if anything to commend it. The author's insistence on presenting everything in Sellars and Yeatman style means that what content there is can only be reached by suffering a morass of whimsy and attempts, mostly unsuccessful, at humour. This is odd, considering that considerable research was undertaken to produce it. I suggest, therefore, that the book is used purely as a starting point for one's own researches; and that the strange bias against Johnson is treated with the contempt it deserves. It is true that there are few books that make more than a superficial attempt at addressing the subject, but you'll have to look beyond this disappointing effort.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Probably not worth buying 21 Jan 2010
By David Reynolds - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some good information, but the idiosyncratic style really got in the way. It's like reading a book written for the author, not for readers.
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