This book aims to explain social variation in language, otherwise the meaning and motivation of language change in its social aspect. It is the expanded and improved 2nd edition of the author's self-published volume with the same title, based on revised and adapted posts on the author's Languagelore blog.
Each vignette calls attention to points of grammar and style in contemporary American English, especially cases where language is changing due to innovative usage. In every case where an analysis contains technical or recondite vocabulary, a Glossary precedes the body of the essay, and readers can also consult the Master Glossary which contains all items glossed in the text.The unique form of the book's presentation is aimed at readers who are alert to the peculiarities of present-day American English as they pertain to pronunciation, grammar, and style, without "dumbing down" or compromising the language in which the explanations are couched.
Praise for the First Edition
"Michael Shapiro is one of the great thinkers in the realm of linguistics and language use, and his integrated understanding of language and speech in its semantic and pragmatic structure, grammatical and historical grounding, and colloquial to literary stylistic variants is perhaps unmatched today. This book is a treasure to be shared." Robert S. Hatten, The University of Texas at Austin
"Jewel of a book. . . . a gift to us all from Michael Shapiro. Like a Medieval Chapbook it can be a kind of companion whose vignettes on language use can be randomly and profitably consulted at any moment. Some may consider these vignettes opinionated. That would be to ignore how deeply anchored each vignette is in Shapiro's long and rare polyglot experience with language. It could well serve as a night table book, taken up each night to read and reflect upon --to ponder--both in the twilight mind and in the deeper reaches of associative somnolence. There is nothing else like it that I know of." James W. Fernandez, The University of Chicago