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Old 05-03-2009, 12:30 PM   #1
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Default Hot topic: langlit

Forgot to mention William Safire’s On Language column in last Sunday’s New York Times magazine: “Wild World of Words.”

He mentioned several books worth mentioning here, including:
  • Gallimaufry: A Hodgepodge of Our Vanishing Vocabulary by Michael Quinion (familiar to some of you from his World Wide Words web site). It has recently come out in paperback ($17 in the U.S., probably relatively less in the U.K., whence it comes). I actually have this book, and like it. The text is brisk and to the point, closer to an encyclopedia than essays, but it is really up to date and full of interesting stuff. I especially like “What’s in a name?” — explaining where (mostly English) surnames came from (there were none before the 13th century).
  • 100 Words Almost Everyone Mispronounces by the editors of American Heritage Dictionaries (128 pages, $6). Sounds like fun but useful as well. Some of the tricky words include ‘almonds’ and ‘chimera,’ according to Safire.
  • I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears by Jag Bhalla (National Geographic Books, paper, $13; to be published in June 2009). Survey of idioms from many countries (with illustrations).

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