Review

Dent’s Modern Tribes, Susie Dent

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As I’m studying English at university, it is no surprise that I am really fascinated by words: the meaning of words and where they come from.  I have been trying to read more and more books about language outside of my university course and this was one of them.  This book, written by lexicographer Susie Dent, discusses how your job or hobby can change the language you speak every day and more specifically among like-minded people.

The book is divided into sectors and individual groups and jobs, or tribes as Dent calls them.  Some of these tribes include politicians, cyclists, actors, paramedics and home bakers.  It surprised me how many words and phrases I have heard or have used myself originate from specific groups of people.  Some words are codes to avoid others outside of their circle knowing the meaning of their speech whilst others are nicknames and abbreviations used to simply speed up communication.

Susie Dent’s commentary is very witty and full of interesting facts.  She gives a very good explanation behind each term and the general environment of the tribe that uses it.  It is this context that really adds to the book.  It was a really engaging book for me because of my love of language and words, although Dent’s simple, funny style of writing makes it easy for anyone to read and enjoy.