Review of The Return of the Word Spy
Like an old friend, the charming Word Spy is back once more to extend our knowledge of written and spoken English and entertain us with the fascinating peculiarities of our language.
The Word Spy loves the English language, everything about its origins, its evolution, its usage, every quirky little aspect of written and spoken English. It is an enthusiasm never seen in English textbooks. When the Word Spy becomes a grammarian and tells about written English, shows how sentences are formed and explains the various parts of speech, it all becomes very clear, indeed fascinating. What distinguishes the Word Spy books more than the broad, entertaining coverage of the subject of the English language is the manner of the narration. The books speak to the reader in a very engaging conversational way, like a chat between friends. There is not an iota of didacticism or educational intent, it is about sharing a love of the language in its myriad manifestations and taking the reader on a journey through the subject. Turn every corner and there is another intriguing or amusing topic.
The Return of the Word Spy includes tacit language such as mime, gesticulation, sign languages and Braille which can be experienced through the inclusion of a special page of Braille alphabet. It also considers such topics as dead languages, the development of writing and writing utensils, neologisms and spoken English.
Again, the entertainment of the book is enhanced by Tohby Riddle’s cartoons with the amusingly literal interpretations of the topics. A handsome book, highly recommended.
Published in Magpies on May 1, 2010.