Magazine November 29, 2021, Issue

Weird English

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Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme — and Other Oddities of the English Language, by Arika Okrent (Oxford University Press, 272 pp., $19.95)

Arika Okrent jokes that she originally wanted to call her new book “What the Hell, English?” Instead, she relegated her would-be title to the introductory section of Highly Irregular, her learned and captivating study of how the weirdness of our language unfolded. But what the hell, indeed — English presents oddities and pleasures too numerous to count and, perhaps until now, too difficult to decipher.

Okrent, an award-winning linguist and writer, wields sharp and powerful tools that satisfyingly scratch our linguaphilic itch (from the Old English gycce). Call it exploration with a purpose: “It’s not the case,” she argues, “that English

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In This Issue

Introduction

Politics & Policy

End Roe

In this special issue, we examine the legal arguments, the policy arguments, and the social arguments for finally ending the Roe era in America.

The Law

The Policy

The Social Impact

Books, Arts & Manners

Books

Weird English

A review of Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme — and Other Oddities of the English Language, by Arika Okrent.

Sections

The Week

The Week

Glenn Youngkin unlocked the secret to electoral success in a Virginia that hadn’t elected a Republican statewide in twelve years.

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