From Library Journal
Ayto, the author of The Longman Register of New Words and The Oxford Dictionary of Slang, presents "the most salient" new English (British and U.S.) words and word meanings from the 20th century. Based on The Oxford English Dictionary and its supplements, entries include the date of the word's earliest appearance in the OED, a definition, and examples of usage. Words are arranged by decade, which is fine in theory but problematic in practice: had Ayto traced linguistic developments thematically, this volume would have been much easier to navigate. As it is, readers will have to rely heavily on the index. More importantly, a thematic structure would have given readers a sense of the issues that have dominated linguistic developments throughout the century. The brief essays that introduce each decade, situating new words in their historical context, aren't enough. Indeed, it would appear that Ayto has a poor grip on the issues and themes that shaped 20th-century English. For example, in his introduction to the 1990s (a decade marked, among other things, by high visibility of gay and lesbian culture), he makes the following, puzzling statement: "The gay community, meanwhile, had to face the new threat of outing." Despite its flaws, this book encapsulates 20th-century developments and will appeal to scholars and readers. For larger public and academic libraries.AAnna Youssefi, Univ. of Houston Lib.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
'The virtues of the diachronic approach to linguistics are splendidly exemplified by John Ayto's unpretentious gold mine of a book.'Paul Dean, TLS, 1.10.99
'Fascinating.' - Dot Wordsworth, Daily Telegraph, 18.9.99
'Endlessly fascinating book' - Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday, 26.12.99