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The Romance of Words (4th ed.)   By: (1865-1954)

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In Ernest Weekley's fourth edition of "The Romance of Words," readers are taken on a fascinating journey through the etymology and history of the English language. With his scholarly expertise and passion for linguistics, Weekley effortlessly delves into the origin and development of words, offering an engaging and informative exploration.

One admirable aspect of Weekley's work is his ability to present complex linguistic concepts in a clear and accessible manner. He seamlessly combines scholarly research with a conversational tone, making this book suitable for both academics and casual readers. By avoiding excessive technical jargon, Weekley ensures that readers of all backgrounds can fully appreciate the richness and beauty of language.

A notable strength of "The Romance of Words" is the inclusion of numerous examples and anecdotes that illustrate the evolutions and migrations of words throughout history. Weekley shares captivating stories behind words, unearthing their origins in various languages, including Latin, Greek, and Old English. These anecdotes not only provide historical context but also breathe life into the subject matter, captivating readers from the very first page.

Weekley's dedication to accuracy and comprehensive research is evident throughout the book. Each chapter is meticulously structured, covering different linguistic aspects such as phonetics, morphology, and semantics. The inclusion of a glossary and index further enhances the book's utility, allowing readers to refer back to specific terms and concepts easily.

Furthermore, the fourth edition of "The Romance of Words" includes valuable updates and revisions that reflect the evolving nature of language. As society evolves, so too does the English language, and Weekley adeptly acknowledges these changes. By addressing contemporary issues and linguistic trends, the book remains relevant and engaging for modern audiences.

One potential criticism of Weekley's work is its occasional density. At times, the detailed analysis of words and linguistic concepts may overwhelm readers without a strong background in linguistics. However, this is a minor concern when considering the overall value and depth of the book. Additionally, the inclusion of a comprehensive appendix for further reading allows interested readers to explore specific topics in more detail.

In conclusion, "The Romance of Words" by Ernest Weekley is a captivating and educational exploration of the English language's rich tapestry. Through an eloquent blend of historical anecdotes, linguistic analysis, and accessible prose, Weekley brings the origins and development of words to life. This fourth edition proves to be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the fascinating world of language and etymology.

First Page:

Transcriber's Note:

Unique page headings have been retained, marked as [Page Heading] and positioned prior to the relevant paragraph.

Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Significant amendments have been listed at the end of the text.

Greek text has been transliterated and is shown between {braces}.

Non ASCII characters are represented as follows: [)a] a with breve [)e] e with breve [)u] u with breve [=a] a with macron [=e] e with macron [=i] i with macron [=o] o with macron [=u] u with macron [oe] oe ligature [/s] long s



"Mr Weekley inspires confidence by his scholarly method of handling a subject which has been left, for the most part, to the amateur or the crank." Spectator. THIRD EDITION. 6s. net.


"Under Professor Weekley's guidance a study of the origin and significance of surnames becomes full of fascination." Truth. SECOND EDITION. 6s. net.


"One knows from experience that Mr Weekley would contrive to avoid unnecessary dullness even if he was compiling a railway guide, but that he would also get the trains right... Continue reading book >>

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