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Kory Stamper: Word by Word

Thursday, December 7

Art Community Downtown

Kory Stamper, lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, will speak on her book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries.

Do you have strong feelings about the word “irregardless”? Have you ever tried to define the word “is”? Brimming with intelligence and personality, this vastly entertaining account of how dictionaries are made is a must-read for word mavens.

Many of us take dictionaries for granted, and few may realize that the process of writing dictionaries 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 to define and how to do it, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. And along the way, she reveals little-known surprises—for example, the fact that “OMG” was first used in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917.

Word by Word brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a startlingly rich world inhabited by quirky and erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. Certain to be a delight for all lovers of words, Stamper’s debut will make you laugh as much as it makes you appreciate the wonderful complexities and eccentricities of the English language.

Benjamin Franklin Hall, 427 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106
Free and open to the public. Please RSVP to attend.

Reception at 5:30 p.m.
Lecture at 6:00 p.m.

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Venue Information

American Philosophical Society Museum
104 South Fifth Street
(adjacent to Independence Hall)
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-440-3440 phone

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