In its long history, the English language has had many lawmakersâ€”those who have tried to regulate or otherwise organize the way we speak. The Lexicographer's Dilemma poses a pair of questionsâ€”what does proper English mean, and who gets to say what's right? Our ideas of correct or proper English have a history, and today's debates over the state of the languageâ€”whether about Ebonics in schools, the unique use of language in a South Park episode, or split infinitives in the Timesâ€”make sense only in historical context. As historian Jack Lynch has discovered, every rule has a human history, and the characters who populate his narrative are as interesting for their obsessions as for their erudition. Charting the evolution of English with wit and intelligence, he provides a rich historical perspective that makes us appreciate a new the hard-won standards we now enjoy.