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Studies in Words (Canto Classics) Paperback – 7 Nov 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (7 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107688655
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107688650
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

..."a brilliant book addressed to students and to lay people alike, unbaffling, deeply informative, and timelessly persuasive." Robert Burchfield, Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary

'... a brilliant book addressed to students and to lay people alike and timelessly persuasive.' Robert Burchfield

'Rarely is so much learning displayed with so much grace and charm. My only regret is that the book was not twice as long.' New York Times Book Review

"Rarely is so much learning displayed with so much grace and charm. My only regret is that the book was not twice as long." The New York Times Book Review

.,."a brilliant book addressed to students and to lay people alike, unbaffling, deeply informative, and timelessly persuasive." Robert Burchfield, Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary

."..a brilliant book addressed to students and to lay people alike, unbaffling, deeply informative, and timelessly persuasive." Robert Burchfield, Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary

Book Description

Language - in its communicative and playful functions, its literary formations and its shifting meanings - is a perennially fascinating topic. C. S. Lewis's Studies in Words explores this fascination by taking a series of words and teasing out their connotations using examples from a vast range of English literature.

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Semantic change - etymology - philology - the history of words, or word-complexes, is often dealt with in a dictionary by an abbreviated form of 'it used to mean X, but now it means Y' explanation, and perhaps this is the most realistic way of handling the matter in a dictionary. Modern linguists have their own rigourous and abstract techniques. But in this intellectually demanding work C. S. Lewis, working at the height of his powers, takes the widest of perspectives, and retains depth of focus. He traces the changing meanings of several words, over the centuries and millennia, from their Greco-Roman and Anglo-Saxon roots to the modern day. The result is valuable exposition, with depth both in psychology and philosophy, and rich in literary source material. The words themselves are treated as living entities, evolving by expansion, contraction, and development of new forms. His chosen words are: 'nature', 'sad', 'wit', 'free', 'sense', 'simple', 'conscience and conscious', 'world', 'life', and 'I dare say'.
As Lewis says, 'The point of view is merely lexical and historical', and 'not an essay in higher linguistics', but this belies the many adventitious benefits that stem from his handling of the resources at his command. His purpose is to give us 'an aid to more accurate reading' and to throw light 'on ideas and sentiments'. I find that in so doing he imparts as much practical technique, knowledge, and enthusiasm for words as a whole year's worth of undergraduate linguistics. For instance, the subtlety of usage of a phrase like 'I dare say' and the potential for even complete reversal in meaning is illustrated through centuries of use from Malory, Dickens, W. S. Gilbert, E. Nesbit, Dorothy L. Sayers, debate in the House of Lords, John Bunyan, and Jane Austen.
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Format: Paperback
Semantic change - etymology - philology - the history of words, or word-complexes, is often dealt with in a dictionary by an abbreviated form of 'it used to mean X, but now it means Y' explanation, and perhaps this is the most realistic way of handling the matter in a dictionary. Modern linguists have their own rigourous and abstract techniques. But in this intellectually demanding work C. S. Lewis, working at the height of his powers, takes the widest of perspectives, and retains depth of focus. He traces the changing meanings of several words, over the centuries and millennia, from their Greco-Roman and Anglo-Saxon roots to the modern day. The result is valuable exposition, with depth both in psychology and philosophy, and rich in literary source material. The words themselves are treated as living entities, evolving by expansion, contraction, and development of new forms. His chosen words are: 'nature', 'sad', 'wit', 'free', 'sense', 'simple', 'conscience and conscious', 'world', 'life', and 'I dare say'.
As Lewis says, 'The point of view is merely lexical and historical', and 'not an essay in higher linguistics', but this belies the many adventitious benefits that stem from his handling of the resources at his command. His purpose is to give us 'an aid to more accurate reading' and to throw light 'on ideas and sentiments'. I find that in so doing he imparts as much practical technique, knowledge, and enthusiasm for words as a whole year's worth of undergraduate linguistics. For instance, the subtlety of usage of a phrase like 'I dare say' and the potential for even complete reversal in meaning is illustrated through centuries of use from Malory, Dickens, W. S. Gilbert, E. Nesbit, Dorothy L. Sayers, debate in the House of Lords, John Bunyan, and Jane Austen.
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Old-fashioned, pompous and too discursive, but I re-read this after 50 odd years with pleasure. Lewis belongs to a distant age of certainty in literary criticism but much of his perception surprisingly still can interest and, sometimes, delight. Reads like a story book!
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