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Verbatim: From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists
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Verbatim: From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  101 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
A brilliant, witty, and engagin exploration of the many facets of the English language.

For thir years VERBATIM: The language Quarterly has published amusing, interesting, and occasionally useful essays on concept, usage, jargon, wordplay, lexicography, linguistics, blunders, malapropisms, and antyin esle remotely (or at all) tied to the English language. HEre, collected fo
Paperback, 372 pages
Published October 17th 2001 by Harvest Books
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God, I love this book! Where else are you going to find a fascinating exegesis of the use of slang in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a discussion of the specific nuances of language within the S/M community, and a discussion of dirty words down the centuries in a single volume? Buy a copy for yourself and several more for your friends who like to explore the back alleys of language.
Katie/Doing Dewey
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
This is actually the first essay collection I’ve read and as other people almost always say, I really enjoyed some of the essays while others just didn’t do it for me. The essays I liked the most generally fell into two categories. First, the essays where the authors complained about particular new developments in speech and writing were often the funniest. I loved the tongue-in-cheek ones where the authors sarcastically lauded the part of speech they were actually disparaging. And the ones wher ...more
Aug 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book collects some of the best articles from Verbatim, the language quarterly magazine -- “Language and linguistics for the layperson since 1974”. As someone with an amateur interest in linguistics, I found this book a perfect introduction to some of the most fun parts of it: unique place names, malediction (hearing “bad” words when there are none intended), slang and jargon, interesting etymologies, wordplay, and the histories of impolite words, among other things. The book maintains a lig ...more
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
I expected to like this book, since I majored in linguistics and am such a big Erin McKean fan. But I generally found the articles read like pedantic laundry lists, which is a bit exhausting even for me.

That said, here are two sayings from the Old Sussex dialect that I liked:
"An impossible task calls forth the comment, 'I can't suck flour *and* whistle!"
"A scolding woman was said to give her husband 'a dish of tongues.'"

And it was also interesting to hear that Australians use diminutives (-ie, -
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Excerpts from the magazine "Verbatim," devoted to various aspects of words and language. Of special note are the article about the Portuguese man who wrote an English phrase book even though his grasp on the language was very tenuous (To wit: "Eatings" include: some boiled meat, some fritters, a stewed fruit, some wigs..)A discussion of word combinations that would never occur in English, yet manage to convey visual images (e.g rotating strawberry madonnas)is entertaining. World history accordin ...more
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference, 2009
Someday, you should visit my bathroom. It's full (well not FULL, of course, since there has to be room left for normal bathroom activities) of books that are easy and fun to read in small bites. This one definitely will be housed there.

Verbatim was entertaining. It is a collection of articles and essays written by different people about aspects of the english language. As with any collection, some were better than others. Overall though, it was quite good. Most people who like reading/writing/w
Oct 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: language
Each chapter focuses on an essence of language/language usage: dictionaries, place names, linguistics, etc. and is a collection of articles published in Verbatim over the past (approximately) three decades. I just read the articles that interested me. I really enjoyed the clips sent in by readers that the editors placed throughout the book that demonstrated gross misuses of the English language. They were quite entertaining.
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
I hate to say it but the title may be better than the book. Now, I love language and while many of the essays/articles included in this book are rather interesting and witty, it's safe to say that a good deal of essays/articles are tedious and boring. What a shame.
Dec 09, 2010 rated it liked it
The wit of these linguists is hilarious. I loved the SIC! SIC! SIC! pieces and the chapter made up of students' mistakes in history essays.

People sensitive to swears should avoid sections of this book, but those words were treated so matter-of-factly that it didn't bother me.
As a fan of language and wordplay, you can’t do much better than Verbatim . This book is a compilation of essays about the use and misuse of language from top scholars, including Richard Lederer!
Feb 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
I hate it when I'm just not in the mood for a book I really thought I'd enjoy.
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Curious crack-up of esoterica, grammatica, and the human mind reflected in its creative and half-cocked relation to relating itself through words.
Apr 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Who doesn't enjoy random essays about linguistics, words and such? Hmm?
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