The Surprising Origins and Astonishing Secrets of English Spelling
Delta, Paperback, 9780385340847, 336pp.
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
From the sophisticated writing systems of the ancient Sumerians through the tongue twisters of Middle English, the popular National Spelling Bee, and the mobile phone text-messaging of today, Spellbound chronicles the fascinating history of English spelling, including insights about the vast number of words English has borrowed from other languages ("orange," "vanilla," and "ketchup," to name a few), and how their meanings differ from country to country. Featuring a lively cast of characters ranging from the fictional to the historically noteworthy (Chaucer, Samuel Johnson, Noah Webster, Shakespeare, Bill Gates), this affectionate tribute to English spelling shows why our whimsical, capricious common language continues to hold us spellbound.
“His enthusiasm is contagious.... Mr. Essinger explains convincingly why our verb inflections are as simple as they are and why our nouns have no grammatical gender.”—Wall Street Journal