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The story of ain't: America, its language, and the most controversial dictionary ever published

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"It takes true brilliance to lift the arid tellings of lexicographic fussing into the readable realm of the thriller and the bodice-ripper....David Skinner has done precisely this, taking a fine story and honing it to popular perfection." --Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman

The Story of Ain't by David Skinner is the captivating true chronicle of the creation of Merriam Webster's Third New International Dictionary in 1961, the most controversial dictionary ever published. Skinner's surprising and engaging, erudite and witty account will enthrall fans of Winchester's The Professor and the Madman and The Meaning of Everything, and The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs, as it explores a culture in transition and the brilliant, colorful individuals behind it. The Story of Ain't is a smart, often outrageous, and altogether remarkable tale of how egos, infighting, and controversy shaped one of America's most authoritative language texts, sparking a furious language debate that the late, great author David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest) once called "the Fort Sumter of the Usage Wars."

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Grouped Work ID 5e74fa79-560d-ede1-a759-a983b2afcb83
Grouping Title story of ain t america its language and the most controversial dictionary ever published
Grouping Author skinner david
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2019-10-15 22:44:03PM
Last Indexed 2019-10-15 23:49:17PM

Solr Details

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author David Skinner
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display_description "In 1934, Webster's Second was the great gray eminence of American dictionaries, with 600,000 entries and numerous competitors but no rivals. It served as the all-knowing guide to the world of grammar and information, a kind of one-stop reference work. In 1961, Webster's Third came along and ignited an unprecedented controversy in America's newspapers, universities, and living rooms. The new dictionary's editor, Philip Gove, had overhauled Merriam's long held authoritarian principles to create a reference work that had "no traffic with...artificial notions of correctness or authority. It must be descriptive not prescriptive." Correct use was determined by how the language was actually spoken, and not by "notions of correctness" set by the learned few. Gove's editorial approach had editors and scholars longing for Webster's Second. Reporters across the country sounded off on Gove and his dictionary. The New York Times complained that Webster's had "surrendered to the permissive school that has been busily extending its beachhead on English instruction," the Times called on Merriam to preserve the printing plates for Webster's Second, so that a new start could be made. And soon Dwight MacDonald, a formidable American critic and writer, emerged as Webster's Third's chief nemesis when in the pages of the New Yorker he likened the new dictionary to the end of civilization."-- Provided by publisher.
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publishDate 2012
Bib IdFormatFormat CategoryEditionLanguagePublisherPublication DatePhysical Description
overdrive:625d229d-39a2-439b-afb2-4ea7465b0205 eBook eBook English HarperCollins 2012
ils:CARL0000398104 Book Books First edition. English Harper, 2012. xiv, 349 p. ; 24 cm.
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Bib IdItem IdGrouped StatusStatusLocally OwnedAvailableHoldableBookableIn Library Use OnlyLibrary OwnedHoldable PTypesBookable PTypesLocal Url
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subject_facet Encyclopedias and dictionaries -- History and criticism
English language -- Lexicography -- History -- 20th century
Gove, Philip Babcock, -- 1902-1972
Webster's third new international dictionary of the English language unabridged
title_display The story of ain't : America, its language, and the most controversial dictionary ever published
title_full The Story of Ain't America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published
The story of ain't : America, its language, and the most controversial dictionary ever published / David Skinner
title_short The story of ain't :
title_sub America, its language, and the most controversial dictionary ever published
topic_facet Encyclopedias and dictionaries
English language
Gove, Philip Babcock
History and criticism