Splendiferous Speech

How Early Americans Pioneered Their Own Brand of English

Raccoon, flapdoodle, higgeldy-piggeldy, gerrymander, go the whole hog—American language invention started with the earliest English colonists and is still going strong today. Splendiferous Speech explores the main sources of American words and phrases, including the expanding western frontier, the bumptious world of politics, and the sensation-filled pages of popular nineteenth-century newspapers.


"You’ll find new, splendiferous ways of looking at the men (and occasionally women) of American history—as creators of a new language as well as a new country."
–Mignon Fogarty, author of the New York Times best-seller Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

"The compelling and engaging story of American English’s tumultuous adolescence … every page will give you new appreciation of the words and expressions that make American English so vibrant."
–Erin McKean, founder of Wordnik.com

"“A delightful tour of how America claimed English for itself, weaving together contributions from knickerbockers and Yankees, cattle ranchers and gold prospectors, the jargon of Wall Street and the floor of congress."
–Arika Okrent, author of In the Land of Invented Languages