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Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society Rev Sub Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195204698
ISBN-10: 0195204697
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A great asset for freshmen for definitions in the writing process."--Abdul L. Taj, Jackson State University

"A first-rate work, both stimulating and provocative."--Lawrence M. Davis, Ball State University

Praise for the first edition:

"An invaluable book....A unique coda to the words of one of our most original and provocative thinkers."--Harpers

"Stimulating."--The New York Times

"Keywords is useful and stimulating to all who work with words or merely love them."--The Wall Street Journal

"Writers, scholars, and others concerned with the interaction between the changed meanings of words will find Keywords current and informative."--Booklist

"The book's greatest value, perhaps, is its exemplification of how all of us should respond to the words we hear and use: with surprise, distrust, curiosity, and unflagging vigilance."--The Yale Review

"This book is an erudite, elegant, and awful warning to anybody tempted to lay down the lexicographical law, in order to apply one authoritative fixed sense to a highly variable and controversial value word."--The Times (London)

"Readers of Williams' earlier works will find fresh rewards in these insights into sematics, sociology, anthropology, and history."--Library Journal

About the Author

Raymond Williams, Jesus College, Cambridge University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Rev Sub edition (May 16, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195204697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195204698
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
one of its kind; it is not a dictionary (not even a technical one); it is not a book on the etimology of words; it will hardly improve your talking skills. Rather, it is a fascinating book on the constant change of culture and how this is reflected in everyday (and not so everyday) words of the English language. You will walk away humble, overwhelmed by the richness and the violence of culture's impact on words.
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This book is extremely helpful for stopping to ponder what we really mean by words we tend to toss around thoughtlessly: for example Class, Culture, Community. Williams takes a revealing and amazingly well researched historical approach by considering etymological word origins, and how the meanings of words change over time. He also considers how words are used both popularly and academically. This work is especially appropriate for those of us overly-analytical types who like to pick apart and unpack concepts as a matter of course, but the text might feel a little laboured and overly cerebral to the less theoretically minded. I highly recommend this as a much needed reference for graduate students and professional academics in the social sciences, or to very dedicated upper level undergraduates. Unfortunately, the more recent "New Keywords" is not nearly so well done - I think in part because it has multiple authors and ends up feeling a little uneven. It is understandable that it not be able to quite stand up to the original, as Raymond Williams was a genius in his own class.
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Williams has a point of view that readers must take into account, but perhaps all lexicographers should be as overt about their assumptions as he is in this eminently readable historical glossary of the terms that shape Western thought. It's a good idea when you are writing anything to stop at some point and look up Williams' account of a few of the words that you have been using -- it's guaranteed to focus the mind.
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My children use this for vocabulary building. A wonderful way to approach cultural literacy. Wish I had it sooner. Learned about it from an excellent teacher from Yale.
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