Arts and Entertainment

'One of its most notable contributors was in Broadmoor'

Say it with flowers: A new book revives the Victorian trend for bestowing meanings on our blooms

We may take our blooms as we see – or smell – them, but the Victorians devoted whole dictionaries to revealing their secret meanings.

The Blagger's Guide To...Samuel Johnson

Ten pages of quotes, but none about oranges

DJ Taylor: Class war, Chav-aliers and Roundheads

Generalisations about society no longer work, boundaries are blurred on morals too, and what about A C Grayling's hair?

Myspace is the thang, innit? Yes, if you want to win at Scrabble

Myspace, on a triple word score would bag you 98 points, perhaps even enough to win a game in a single turn, and, as of now, it is also legal.

Ian Hamilton Finlay, Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Poetry and philosophy are etched into the mind by the dour head gardener of the avant-garde

A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson, Dr Johnson's House, London

For this particular stop on its nation-wide tour, A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson – an evening of pure, civilised delight, directed by Max Stafford-Clark for his Out of Joint Company – becomes seriously site-specific. The audience is seated up in the attic of the beautiful Georgian house in Gough Square (off Fleet Street) where the great man of letters lived while compiling his monumental Dictionary.

The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel, By David Levithan<br />Kama Sutra, By Vatsyayana, trans. AND Haksar<br />The Art of Love by Ovid, trans. Tom Payne

Last week I chaired an event at the French Institute during which Alain de Botton talked, with all his graceful erudition, about Stendhal's treatise On Love. For de Botton, that hopeless old romantic's wander through passion's rare peaks and frequent troughs adds up to a sort of autobiographical novel rather than a systematic theory of desire and disappointment. Lytton Strachey, he reminded us, thought that Stendhal combined the emotionalism of a 12-year-old girl with the rigour of a high-court judge. It's the quasi-legalistic side of his approach to amour that sometimes comes to the fore in the arch recipes and formulae of On Love.

The Dictionary of Media and Communications, By Daniel Chandler &amp; Rod Munday

This book is a useful corrective to the assumption that media studies is an easy option. The entry on "relevance theory" informs us it is "a theory of pragmatics based on the principle... it is a necessary condition for communication that all utterances are presumed to be related to contextual assumptions."

Internet social sites 'encourage wrong spelling'

Internet chatrooms and social networking sites are encouraging children to spell words incorrectly, new research suggests.

My Afternoons With Margueritte (15)

Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus

Could you make an eight-letter word out of F I D E T C A S H?

This year's 'Countdown' star did &ndash; and gave the show a conundrum

'Obeisant' spells Scrabble triumph for transsexual

Casual players of Scrabble, take heart. Even in yesterday’s final of the national championships, the two opponents were unafraid to adorn the board with words more usually suited to the playground.

Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins, Edited by Julia Cresswell

The words we use everyday are so familiar that they almost seem natural phenomena like grass and rocks. Of course, they were man-made. Packed with pithy explanations of their often distant and unlikely origins, this book is as engrossing (from the Latin grossus meaning large, which also gave us grocer, originally someone who sold things in large quantities) as it is enlightening. Take sabotage. It sounds vaguely French, especially in the personalised form of saboteur, but did you know that it derives from sabot, French for clog? It comes from the destruction of machinery by clog-wearing workers in the 19th century.

Book Of A Lifetime: Oxford English Dictionary

I wonder if I could cheat and go for a genre rather than an individual book? Maybe the literary editor will be too busy to notice. It has to be a dictionary: any dictionary. From as early as I can remember, I've been fascinated by dictionaries. All those senses. All those words. And in alpha order too. Oh, the holy joy of it! [Ed: I've noticed.]

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