2008 Holiday Gift List for the Logophile in Your Life

Here are some gift ideas for that person in your life who really enjoys words and language (even it that person is you).

Of course, the first book on the list is Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends, by David Wilton, Oxford University Press, 2004. The paperback version is just out and and if you haven’t picked up a copy already, now is the time to do it.

Next up is a pair of books by linguist David Crystal. The first is:

txtng: the gr8 db8. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

In txtng, Crystal takes on the question of what effects text messaging is having on literacy. Will texting destroy a generation’s ability to write a coherent English sentence? Crystal’s answer is a resounding “no” and along the way debunks much of the conventional wisdom about texting. You can see my full review of the book here.

The second book by Crystal is:

Think on my words: exploring Shakespeare’s language. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Crystal provides a thorough overview of Shakespeare’s English in this book aimed at the lay reader. Accessible and easy to read, Think On My Words is suitable for both classroom use and casual reading. See my full review here.

I usually don’t review or recommend books that I haven’t read, but for the next one I’ll make an exception. It’s Mignon Fogarty’s (a.k.a. Grammar Girl) Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.

I’m a fan of the Grammar Girl podcast and her advice on writing and usage is always on target. So even though I haven’t read this particular book, I’m confident from her other work that this one is good too.

Finally, I’ve got another pair of somewhat older books for you. These are both in a rather specialized field, Old English. Not many people have the inclination or the time to dive into the study of Old English, but if you do these two books are must haves.

First up is Peter Baker’s Introduction to Old English, Blackwell Publishing, 2007. It is the best Old English grammar that I’ve found and includes an anthology of readings.

The next is J.R. Clark Hall’s A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, University of Toronto Press, 1960. The more comprehensive Bosworth-Toller dictionary is available for free online, but this paperback is handy and easier to use.

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