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Authorisms: Words Wrought By Writers

Posted at 11:55AM Monday 30 Jun 2014

The lexicographer Paul Dickson is a connoisseur of what he calls "word words" and a compiler of "book books". Both tautologies – known in the puffed-up jargon of linguistics as "contrastive focus reduplications" – have a precise meaning. The former refers to terms whose main purpose is to exhibit verbal virtuosity and playfulness, while the latter pays homage to the old-fashioned objects that used to be stored on shelves, as opposed to the tracts of text that materialise out of nowhere on electronic screens.


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