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Word by Word Audiobook

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries

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Publisher's Summary

Brimming with intelligence and personality, a vastly entertaining account of how dictionaries are made - a must-listen for word mavens.

While most of us might take dictionaries for granted, the process of writing them is in fact as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography - from the agonizing decisions about what and how to define to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define (have you ever tried to define is?), how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. Throughout, Stamper brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a world inhabited by quirky, erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. A sure delight for all lovers of words, Word by Word might also quietly improve listeners' grasp and use of the English language.

©2017 Kory Stamper (P)2017 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"[M]arvelous insight into the messy world behind the tidy definitions on the page...." (Bridget Thoreson, Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance


There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

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  • R. Stern
    24/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Kory should narrate more Audible books!"
    What made the experience of listening to Word by Word the most enjoyable?

    I loved the author's, ( Kory Stamper), modulation and lilt and energy and explanations and rants about words like "irregardless" and "it's/its" and full throttle pronunciations and expertise! She wasn't arrogant, she spoke to the listener as if she were a friend explaining her chosen field.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Word by Word?

    Her explanation about how people who apply and are lucky enough to get a job like hers chose it so they never have to talk to people!!! More than ever, people want that!!! Then she explained why SHE was chosen to respond to grievances.


    Have you listened to any of Kory Stamper’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have NEVER heard such an enthusiastic reader. I wish she narrated more books! ANY BOOKS!!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I think I liked her honesty about coming from Colorado and having to adjust to the Mid-Atlantic pronunciations and jargon.


    Any additional comments?

    As a long ago linguistics minor...I always learned that all we have to do is make ourselves understood even if we don't spell perfectly. But it is an unappreciated art to GET IT RIGHT!!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • J. Sierra
    Eugene OR USA
    22/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great insider information"
    What did you love best about Word by Word?

    I got an insider's view of how Merriam-Webster's Dictionary is "built." It was fascinating.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    It was read by the author, and she was by turns compelling, funny, awkward, and annoying. Sort of like most of the people in my Ph.D. program.


    What does Kory Stamper bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She has a good instinct for comedy, plus experience in the trenches. She is very good at explaining obscure points and giving funny examples. Lots of naughty words, too, if you like that.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    It's not that kind of book. I enjoyed hearing about the sorts of complaints the editors receive from the public. And the book reinforced my belief that people are really, really interested in words.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Pennypie
    22/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a wonderful book!"

    Unexpected, funny, informative, provocative. I can't quite believe that I wanted a book on this topic to be longer, but I most definitely did. Please write more, Kory Stamper.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Janet
    15/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well Told"

    interesting to listen to. the author's turn of phrase was both intelligent, and eclectic. Any lover of language and armchair lexicoghrapher would enjoy. Narration was engaging.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amanda
    10/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If you love the English language listen to this."

    A heartfelt and entertaining listen to someone clearly passionate about their field. Wish there were a dozen more chapters of quirks and interesting tidbits.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Prize
    coral gables, fl USA
    21/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Romping through dictionary fields"
    Where does Word by Word rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The best match of content and reading tone.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Word by Word?

    There were many amusing moments. I chuckled heartily when hearing about defining the word, bitch.


    Have you listened to any of Kory Stamper’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Never before, but this was a compelling start.


    Any additional comments?

    Well written and well read. The author's voice, tempo, thorough familiarity with subject and serious satire was a spritely romp through the quirky and laborious process of producing a dictionary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Debra
    30/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dissapointment"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I book this book on the recommendation of a good friend. I was exciting at the prospect of learning the history of the english language. I could not get past chapter two. This book has language that is not conducive to family listening. I had my son get in the car at the exact time and expletive was being said. The look of horror and shock was not one I want to repeat. It's hard to get any education value out a book when you are constantly on guard of what will be said. <br/><br/>For many this may not be a problem but it sure does not display the english language in a classy, respectful way.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I returned the book without finishing


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Beth Kellim
    30/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful....LOVE Kory Stamper"
    What did you love best about Word by Word?

    I enjoyed listening to Kory read her own book!


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Her voice and pronunciations !


    What does Kory Stamper bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The pronunciations and inflections!


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    WHat id lexicographers ran the world?!


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • khaledalyami001
    Danabuckmir001
    28/03/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "That is a great book and I really enjoyed it"

    I loved this book and enjoyed all its parts and will read it again soooooon

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Kathy A. Flament
    Delaware
    09/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fun at first, but way too long"
    Would you try another book from Kory Stamper and/or Kory Stamper?

    Maybe - it would have to depend on the subject and whether or not it was fiction or non-fiction. The prose in this book is irreverent enough, but the subject would be better treated in an article in the New Yorker, for example, instead of a whole, long, overly-detailed book.


    What was most disappointing about Kory Stamper’s story?

    The thrill was gone after chapter four or so. Went on way too long


    What didn’t you like about Kory Stamper’s performance?

    The performance was good enough, but I had grown tired of the contents.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    boredom


    0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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