The Story of Ain't: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published

3.11 avg rating
( 265 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780062027467: The Story of Ain't: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published

“It takes true brilliance to lift the arid tellings of lexicographic fussing into the readable realm of the thriller and the bodice-ripper….David Skinner has done precisely this, taking a fine story and honing it to popular perfection.”
—Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman

The Story of Ain’t by David Skinner is the captivating true chronicle of the creation of Merriam Webster’s Third New International Dictionary in 1961, the most controversial dictionary ever published. Skinner’s surprising and engaging, erudite and witty account will enthrall fans of Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman and The Meaning of Everything, and The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs, as it explores a culture in transition and the brilliant, colorful individuals behind it. The Story of Ain’t is a smart, often outrageous, and altogether remarkable tale of how egos, infighting, and controversy shaped one of America’s most authoritative language texts, sparking a furious language debate that the late, great author David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest) once called “the Fort Sumter of the Usage Wars.” 

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Product Description:

The Story of Ain't Tells the story of the people who made the dictionary, those who denounced it, and the forces that shaped it. This title traces the shift in the American lexicon in the decades leading up to 1961, identifying the changes that affected our language from the Great Depression through World War II to the 1950s. Full description

Review:

“An immensely entertaining history…Skinner manages to transform this somewhat arcane lexicographical dispute into a real page turner…Skinner ably and amusingly captures the hysterical tone of the bitter public quarrel while suggesting that it foreshadowed many of the arguments over values and standards that we’re still fighting about today.” ( Associated Press)

“An engrossing account of the continuing ruckus over Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.” ( New York Times Book Review)

“Mr. Skinner does a fine job detailing the controversy that greeted Webster’s Third, but he is even stronger when describing the internal politics at Merriam and the mechanics of revising a dictionary.” ( Wall Street Journal)

“…spry cultural history” ( Harper's)

“[Skinner] provides well-argued critiques of the orthodoxies that define language studies” ( New York Times)

“A highly entertaining, thoughtful new book.” ( Boston Globe)

“Skinner is good on the development of 20th-century linguistics and on the interplay between America’s language and its sense of itself.” ( Financial Times)

“…comprehensive and evenhanded, and written in a clear and jaunty style…What in less skilled hands might have been arid and parochial in David Skinner’s becomes a lively account of a subject of interest to anyone concerned about the English language in America.” ( Weekly Standard)

“Mr. Skinner weaves a true tale fascinating not just to linguists and lexicographers, but to anyone interested in the evolution of our language during a critical period in America’s History.” ( New York Journal of Books)

“Skinner has written an entertaining book about a controversy that still lingers and throws light on how emotional our ties to language are….a funny and informative account.” ( Columbus Dispatch)

“...delightful new book on lexicography…Skinner leaves no doubt as to the importance of Webster’s Third as the game-changer in dictionary standards and the impetus for an American cultural metamorphosis.” ( Shelf Awareness)

The Story of Ain’t is a book about words, the national character, and the inevitability of change. And it’s so fun, you might not even realize that you’re joining the debate.” ( Hillsdale Collegian)

“Skinner…offers a highly entertaining and intelligent re-creation of events surrounding the 1961 publication of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary by G. & C. Merriam…a rich and absorbing exploration of the changing standards in American language and culture.” ( Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“A compelling reminder of the cultural significance of words and word-making.” ( Booklist (starred review))

“A fascinating, highly entertaining cultural history that will enchant an audience beyond word nerds....Skinner nimbly, concisely--and without academic dryness--traces the everyday changes that shaped what came out of Americans’ mouths and into our dictionaries.” ( BookPage)

“It takes true brilliance to lift the arid tellings of lexicographic fussing into the readable realm of the thriller and the bodice-ripper. With his riveting account…David Skinner has done precisely this, taking a fine story and honing it to popular perfection.” ( Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and Atlantic)

“The flap over Webster’s Third in 1961 was a never-to-be-repeated episode in American cultural history…. David Skinner tells it brilliantly…as he brings to life the odd cast of characters who played a role in the affair.” ( Geoffrey Nunberg, University of California at Berkeley, emeritus chair of the American Heritage Dictionary usage panel, language commentator, "Fresh Air," NPR)

“A fascinating account of a major paradigm shift in the American language, when a group of bold lexicographers decided to tell it like it is and causing a huge cultural rumpus. This is more than just a story about a new edition of a dictionary.” ( Christopher Buckley, New York Times bestselling author of They Eat Puppies, Don't They? and Thank You for Smoking)

“David Skinner tells the tale of a great battle in the 1960s War Between the Real and the Ideal. It was a conflict with realists laying claim to idealism and idealists asserting realism and vice versa. Skinner makes it all clear.” ( P.J. O'Rourke, New York Times bestselling author of Holidays in Heck and Don't Vote--It Just Encourages)

“A cultural story as much as a linguistic one, teeming with colorful characters and big ideas, The Story of Ain’t is a must read for anybody who loves language.” ( Toby Lester, author of Da Vinci's Ghost and The Fourth Part of the World)

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Skinner, David
Published by Harper
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Qwestbooks COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0062027468. Bookseller Inventory # Z0062027468ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
3.90
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Skinner, David
Published by Harper 2012-10-09 (2012)
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Seller
Ebooksweb COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper 2012-10-09, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0062027468. Bookseller Inventory # Z0062027468ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
3.90
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Skinner, David
Published by Harper
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
BookShop4U
(PHILADELPHIA, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0062027468. Bookseller Inventory # Z0062027468ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
3.94
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

David Skinner
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97800620274670000000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
14.09
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Skinner, David
Published by Harpercollins (2012)
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
Paperbackshop-US
(Commerce, GA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harpercollins, 2012. HRD. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VC-9780062027467

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.67
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.20
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Skinner, David
Published by Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper Collins Publishers. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0062027468

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
12.33
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.81
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

David Skinner
Published by Harper (2012)
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Strand Book Store, ABAA
(New York, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 2161870

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
10.69
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 4.80
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

David Skinner
Published by Harper (2012)
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0062027468

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
16.76
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Skinner, David
Published by Harper
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Movie Mars
(Indian Trail, NC, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0062027468 Brand New Book. Ships from the United States. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee!. Bookseller Inventory # 16073168

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
14.09
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.20
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

David Skinner
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States (2012)
ISBN 10: 0062027468 ISBN 13: 9780062027467
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 231 x 157 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Few decades have caused more controversy than the 1960s, a time of explosive change in which tradition and authority gave way to freedom - a sweeping transformation crystalized in the 1961 publication of Webster s Third New International Dictionary . Created by the most respected American publisher of dictionaries and supervised by editor Philip Gove, Webster s Third broke with convention, adding thousands of new words and eliminating artificial notions of correctness, basing proper usage on how language was actually spoken. The dictionary s revolutionary style sparked debate in universities, libraries, newspapers, and living rooms nationwide. Critics instantly took umbrage at the dictionary s handling of ain t, among other blasphemies. Literary intellectuals like Dwight Macdonald believed the dictionary s scientific approach to language and its abandonment of the old standard of usage represented the end of civilization. In this intriguing history, David Skinner tells the story of the people who made the dictionary, those who denounced it, and the forces that shaped it. He traces the shift in the American lexicon in the decades leading up to 1961, identifying the changes that affected our language from the Great Depression through World War II to the 1950s. As America became the undisputed leader of the free world, its citizens were becoming more educated. What came to be known as middlebrow culture was born, and alongside it a cadre of cultural critics, including Macdonald who condemned its permissiveness and divergence from standards. Entertaining and erudite, The Story of Ain t describes a great social metamorphosis in America and illuminates the intriguing yet little known early episode in the culture war that continues to divide the nation. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780062027467

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
17.66
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book