Not too hard to understand. So why the big hype about it? Why do I flaunt and fangirl and rave like a joyous kid who got their dose of candy--and then some!--when I talk about this book? Well, that's because most of the things addressed in this book are RELEVANT and cause the most hubbub today out of countless things going on in the reading, writing, and speaking world! And guess what? Questions like "Why don't people speak proper English?" and "How can they get away with destroying our beautiful English language like that?!" are addressed in this book. Not only that, but hey: anyone else want some answers on Slang? Texting? 1337 Speak? Cursing? "Proper" English and more? Yeah, I thought you might.
This book talks about all those things, and it also goes back into the origins of the English language to show us where it first started from, how it changed, what the issues were several centuries ago and more. And the most shocking thing? A lot of the problems that we all fuss, foam, and rage about today were issues that people who spoke English have been having for ever. Since the time the language BEGAN we had the same issues popping up, even if they weren't rooted in things like our technological advancements today. There were cultures that strove against each other, competitions in forms and ways of writing that were both social and political, even country-oriented. We get SO much knowledge in this book! And though sometimes it's definitely a culture shock to see just what "English" looked and sounded like back when it first began, it's definitely not boring! Being able to actually read half of the things that Jack Lynch covers in this relatively normal sized book is saying something in and of itself! Most people who would be presented with half the stuff he covers in this book in any other situation would be like:
But know what's the amazing thing? You can read this... and get it.
I am quite completely in love with this book and its presentation of history, of how it engages the mind of the reader by its fuller offer of information in regards to language in general--not to shy from the English language on a whole either. God, it's an amazing book! Reading it is like taking in the most delicious of experiences, of eating your favorite food, tasting the sweetest of drinks on your tongue! The comprehension that Jack Lynch allows us by his easy-to-read, conversational method of explaining and elaborating on so many presumed complex materials is enough to make someone fall to their knees and thank the blessed Lord that there's SOMEONE out there that gets more than you do, and that his knowledge from so much study can be so easy to understand and follow, even when you're not an expert or even knowledgeable in what it is he's teaching you.
Mind you, readers, I speak from experience outside of just this book's realm. I bought this book because Jack Lynch, its author, is and has been my professor at Rutgers University for the past year and a half now. And although that pinpoints me more than I am usually comfortable with in terms of location, to advocate this man and his knowledge is more than worthy a cause. My best friend knows the hours I've spent in a day gushing to her over the phone about how credible and wonderful a teacher he is; and! how enjoyable, entertaining, and--did I mention wonderful?--a man he is in general. He's the kind of person who takes the time to be a person, and whose passion and joy in his work supersedes everything else, emanating in all that he does. This was the first time that I'd received the chance to read any of his writing however, for all that I've done much reading under his overall guidance in my classes at school. But even here, reading the text, The Lexicographer's Dilemma, his voice clearly can be heard in its pages. The knowledge that fills this book still carries his conversational tone, underlined by his natural and easy humor, and always carrying that very present, perceptible note of one who understands, and who is doing his best to guide the reader patiently through so that he or she can also understand. This has always been, to me, one of the most enamoring and remarkable of his qualities as a professor. And in this book, I'm ecstatic to find that not a single bit of who he is in person has changed in the conveyance of who he is in writing. He's the same man, back and front, and that made the reading of this book not only a breeze, but a pleasure.
When you have the chance to enjoy knowledge, that's one thing. But when you get the opportunity to learn it almost effortlessly, even unconsciously, that's when you know you're learning it from a good source. As a book used for education, The Lexicographer's Dilemma is an amazingly successful piece. But even as a book for the cursory learner, or the glancing reader--the skimmer--this is a book that has countless granules of knowledge that it can provide for someone not reading it for a class. In fact, one of the things I mentioned to my family when I was just about ten pages from the end of the book was along the lines of this:
"I had so many issues with people who speak the language today. Text speak, not speaking properly, writing not even close to properly, worrying that the language was going to be ruined! But after reading this book, all those anxieties I've always had about the way people talk and write? They've calmed down now. I feel like the anxieties have gone away. I know more: about the history of our language, about how it was used and the changes that it went through, and I'm not as anxious anymore. I'm not as worried. I can kinda breathe a sigh of relief, and relax now. Because I understand what's happening in today's day, and even if I don't like it, by understanding it it means that I can--at the very least--control my own feelings about it. And that's something that many people have no way of doing today. They're so stuck on Right and Wrong that they fail to take into consideration that maybe, just maybe, there are things more important than what's right and wrong--especially when the existence of language has always been affected by one thing more than anything else: people doing what feels natural to them.
My readers, my writers, and every speaker of the English language--or any other language for that matter!--this is a book that will satisfy curiosity, teach you a great deal more than you ever knew or even suspected about Language itself, and can guide you naturally into the midst of the chaos that abounds in our English speaking world. And it can do all this without ever once hinting at the fact that it's "educating" you. I recommend this book to absolutely everyone, because I cannot think of a group of people who would not benefit from reading this. Language is how all people express themselves. Being able to take a dip into this book and enjoy our language in its own right is an amazing, unexpectedly productive trip. I highly recommend you do so. <3 In fact, I'll even go so far as to say that you should go out and buy this book. Because I can't see you regretting it. At all. Hope you all enjoy!
And to my professor: Thank you for putting this book on your syllabus. It's benefited me more than I could have imagined. Just like randomly stumbling upon your 18th Century Literature classes more than a year ago now did as well. Without this random, chance, wonderful guidance I've received--I doubt I would be half as happy today as I am. The way you teach, and the things you teach, have helped me to grow and expand my mind in the ways most naturally suited to life: not without effort, but absolutely without pain, animosity, and regrets. Thank you! You've made a lasting impression, and my only gift in return is that I can spread that same great impression I have of you on to others. I hope to do so! I truly, greatly do.