Master that word

ONE feature about language is that every word has a certain precision to it. You cannot, therefore substitute `who' with `which' when framing a sentence. Even `which' is not exactly the same as `that.'

Explaining the nuances of language in a manner easy to understand is the challenge before every lexicographer. Major publishing houses are always looking for improved ways of explaining words and their usage. Oxford and Cambridge University Press have done it for long.

Now, Orient Longman comes along with a not-very-voluminous tome that hopes to take the concept of tailormade dictionaries further. It has just launched one for South Asian learners.

WordMaster promises to tell the learners in the subcontinent the meaning of words they read, and also the words they need. Flip through to page 679 and there is a neat little box that informs that `who' refers to human beings, `which' to non-living as well as non-human creatures, and `that' to non-living as well as human and all other creatures.

Orient Longman says WordMaster also flags words that are ``not respectful, taboo, gender-sensitive, and offensive.'' Certainly, a useful piece of advice for anyone who plans to send e-mails to a friend in England.

WordMaster has 35,000 entries, phrases and derivations from modern English, the publisher says, including those that have recently come into use.

In Chennai, Orient Longman's showroom, `Bookpoint' is well known not only among book lovers but also for its auditorium that hosts meetings encompassing a variety of subjects.

Where to find it: Orient Longman, 160, Anna Salai, Chennai 600 002. Contact: Tel-2852 3346.

Recommended for you