This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

26Mar/17

KORY STAMPER: WORD BY WORD

Word nerd Kory Stamper

Word nerd Kory Stamper will be at the Upper East Side B&N on March 28 to launch her new book

Barnes & Noble
2289 Broadway at 82nd St.
Tuesday, March 28, free, 7:00
212-362-8835
barnesandnoble.com
korystamper.wordpress.com

We’ve been Kory Stamper groupies ever since we happened upon one of her “Ask the Editor” videos on YouTube nearly seven years ago. Since 2010, Merriam-Webster associate editor Emily Brewster, editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski, and associate editor Stamper have been making short videos delving into the etymology and usage of words and phrases, from the serial comma and “It is I vs. It is me” to weird plurals and “lay vs. lie.” In introducing her “harm·less drudg·ery | defining the words that define us” webiste in December 2011, Stamper, explained, “We might as well start this blog with a confession: I never planned on being a lexicographer.” Stamper has now written her first book, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries (March 14, Penguin Random House, $26.95), in which she goes behind the scenes of how dictionaries are put together, making the most of her playful sense of humor. “Language is one of the few common experiences humanity has,” she writes in the preface. “Not all of us can walk; not all of us can sing; not all of us like pickles. But we all have an inborn desire to communicate why we can’t walk or sing or stomach pickles. To do that, we use our language, a vast index of words and their meanings we’ve acquired, like linguistic hoarders, throughout our lives.” Among the book’s chapters are “Hrafnkell: On Falling in Love,” “Irregardless: On Wrong Words,” “Bitch: On Bad Words,” and “Nuclear: On Pronunciation.” Describing her initial meeting with M-W director of defining Steve Perrault, who would become her boss, she remembers, “Apparently, neither of us enjoyed job interviews. I, however, was the only one perspiring lavishly. ‘So tell me,’ he ventured, ‘why you are interested in lexicography.’ I took a deep breath and clamped my jaw shut so I did not start blabbing. This was a complicated answer.” On March 28, you can join the ever-growing number of word nerds as they throng the Upper West Side B&N to venture even further (farther?) down the hallowed halls of M-W and hear from one of its superstars, there to share her inside info and regale all with her morphological magic.

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