23 November 2009
Margaret Magnus "Gods of the Word"
Revolutionary idea, this book published in 1999 is presently out of print. With Margaret's permission I am slowly PDFing the entire 140 pages from my closest library copy borrowed from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (who knew). Here, the first thirty pages (above), Margaret Magnus' website link and her description of "Gods of the Word"-
In 1993, as part of a computer project I was working on, I found myself reading an English dictionary and dividing all the words into prefixes, suffixes and roots. I had read studies in linguists which suggested that the initial consonants of a word had a set of meanings, and the remaining rhyming part also had a set of meanings. One 'sense' of 'str-' is linearity: string, strip, stripe, street, etc. And one sense of '-ap' is flat: cap, flap, lap, map, etc. If you put them together, you get a flat line: 'strap'. The idea fascinated me, and since I was marking all these words anyway, I decided to keep an eye out for these classes which have similar meaning and pronunciation both. It turns out that it is possible by means of a series of repeatable experiments to show that certain meanings hang out with certain phonemes and others do not. I have been working on a dictionary which outlines this data for English in much more detail rather formally and scientifically. But I also have many thoughts which I seem to express more openly and cheerfully when I voice them in a separate book. My purpose here is therefore not to prove anything, but to summarise my most important findings in plain English and to philosophise freely and naively on their significance.
Update March 2011: Margaret has self published through Amazon (link above) at a very nice price - enjoy the "preview" above.