Sunday, October 16, 2011

The story of English in 100 words

By David Crystal


1 Roe The first word (5th c)
2 Lea Naming places (8th c)
3 And An early abbreviation (8th c)
4 Loaf An unexpected origin (9th c)
5 Out Changing grammar (9th c)
6 Street A Latin loan (9th c)
7 Mead A window into history (9th c)
8 Merry A dialect survivor (9th c)
9 Riddle Playing with language (10th c)
10 What An early exclamation (10th c)
11 Bone-house A word-painting (10th c)
12 Brock A Celtic arrival (10th c)
13 English The language named (10th c)
14 Bridegroom Popular etymology (11th c)
15 Arse An impolite word (11th c)
16 Swain A poetic expression (12th c)
17 Pork An elegant word (13th c)
18 Chattels A legal word (13th c)
19 Dame A form of address (13th c)
20 Skirt A word doublet (13th c)
21 Jail Or Gaol? Competing words (13th c)
22 Take away A phrasal verb (13th c)
23 Cuckoo A sound-symbolic word (13th c)
24 C--- A taboo word (13th c)
25 Wicked A radical alteration (13th c)
26 Wee A Scottish contribution (14th c)
27 Grammar A surprising link (14th c)
28 Valentine First name into word (14th c)
29 Egg A dialect choice (14th c)
30 Royal Word triplets (14th c)
31 Money A productive idiom (14th c)
32 Music A spelling in evolution (14th c)
33 Taffeta An early trade word (14th c)
34 Information(s) (Un)countable nouns (14th c)
35 Gaggle A collective noun (15th c)
36 Doable A mixing of languages (15th c)
37 Matrix A word from Tyndale (16th c)
38 Alphabet Talking about writing (16th c)
39 Potato A European import (16th c)
40 Debt A spelling reform (16th c)
41 Ink-horn A classical food (16th c)
42 Dialect Regional variation (16th c)
43 Bodgery Word-coiners (16th c)
44 Undeaf A word from Shakespeare
(16th c)
45 Skunk An early Americanism (17th c)
46 Shibboleth A word from the King James Bible (17th c)
47 Bloody Emerging swear word (17th c)
48 Lakh A word from India (17th c)
49 Fopdoodle A lost word (17th c)
50 Billion A confusing ambiguity (17th c)
51 Yogurt A choice of spelling (17th c)
52 Gazette A taste of journalese (17th c)
53 Tea A social word (17th c)
54 Disinterested A confusable (17th c)
55 Polite A matter of manners (17th c)
56 Dilly-dally A reduplicating word (17th c)
57 Rep A clipping (17th c)
58 Americanism A new nation (18th c)
59 Edit A back-information (18th c)
60 Species Classifying things (18th c)
61 Ain’t Right and wrong (18th c)
62 Trek A word from Africa (19th c)
63 Hello Progress through technology (19th c)
64 Dragsman Thieves’ cant (19th c)
65 Lunch U or non-U (19th c)
66 Dude A cool usage (19th c)
67 Brunch A portmanteau word (19th c)
68 Dinkum A word from Australia (19th c)
69 Mipela Pidgin English (19th c)
70 Schmooze A Yiddishism (19th c)
71 OK Debatable origins (19th c)
72 Ology Suffix into word (19th c)
73 Y’all A new pronoun (19th c)
74 Speech-craft An Anglo-Saxonism
(19th c)
75 DNA Scientific terminology (20th c)
76 Garage A pronunciation problem
(20th c)
77 Escalator Word into name into word (20th c)
78 Robot A global journey (20th c)
79 UFO Alternative forms (20th c)
80 Watergate Place-name into word (20th c)
81 Doublespeak Weasel words (20th c)
82 Doobry Useful nonsense (20th c)
83 Blurb A moment of arrival (20th c)
84 Strine A comic effect (20th c)
85 Alzheimer’s Surname into word
(20th c)
86 Grand Money slang (20th c)
87 Mega Prefix into word (20th c)
88 Gotcha A non-standard spelling
(20th c)
89 PC Being politically correct (20th c)
90 Bagonise A nonce-word (20th c)
91 Webzine An internet compound
(20th c)
92 App A killer abb (20th c)
93 Cherry-picking Corporate speak (20th c)
94 LOL Netspeak (20th c)
95 Jazz Word of the century (20th c)
96 Sudoku A modern loan (21st c)
97 Muggle A fiction word (21st c)
98 Chillax A fashionable blend (21st c)
99 Unfriend A new age (21st c)
100 Twittersphere Future directions? (21st c)

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