Friday, October 4, 2019

Review of "Noah Webster & His Words," by Jeri Chase Ferris

Review of

Noah Webster & His Words, by Jeri Chase Ferris ISBN 9780544582422

Five out of five stars

 The subject matter of this book makes it highly educational, for it is something obvious after the fact. Yet it is a topic that is rarely considered. It is the existence of a unified system of how words are to be spelled and defined.

 Noah Webster was the author of the first comprehensive dictionary of American English and it was responsible for codifying how words were written and used. Some of the most popular dictionaries are still written under his name hundreds of years after the publication of the first one. If you allow for the regular revisions, Webster’s dictionary is the second most popular book ever printed in English.

 This story of Webster’s life and ambitions is very well written and illustrated. He was a man with a mission, it took him decades to complete his dictionary, the first edition was not published until 1828, after twenty years of editing and proofreading. Yet, he always knew that he was writing a classic, a book that generations of students would rely on and sometimes grow to hate. There were many times when I was in elementary school that the teacher would tell us, “Look in the dictionary.” Add this book to the list of those that are must reads for elementary school children.

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