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Alphabetter Juice: or, The Joy of Text by…
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Alphabetter Juice: or, The Joy of Text (2011)

by Roy Blount Jr.

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Wonderful fun! ( )
  amaraduende | Mar 30, 2013 |
After 40 years of making a living using words in every medium, print or electronic, Blount still can't get over his ABCs. In "Alphabet Juice," he celebrates the juju, the sonic and kinetic energies of letters and their combinations.
  albanypubliclibrary | Mar 1, 2011 |
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Epigraph
ELSIE: What's that, Daddy?
FATHER: A cow.
ELSIE: Why?

—from a 1906 issue of Punch, quoted by Ernest Weekley as an epigraph to his book An Etymology of Modern English
When we reflect that "sentence" means, literally, "a way of thinking" (Latin: sententia) and that it comes from Latin sentire, to feel, we realize that the concepts of sentence and sentence structure are not merely grammatical or merely academic—not negliglbe in any sense. A sentence is both the opportunity and the limit of thought—what we have to think with, and what we have to think in. It is, moreover, a feelable thought, a thought that impresses its sense not just on our understanding, but on our hearing, our sense of rhythm and proportion. It is a pattern of felt sense.

—Wendell Berry, "Standing by Words"
Captain Smith . . . , happening to be taken Prisoner among the Indians, had leave granted him to send a Message to the Governor of the English Fort in James Town, about his Ransome; the Messenger being an Indian, was surpriz'd, when he came to the Governor, . . . for that the Governor could tell him all his Errand before he spoke one Word of it to him, and that he only had given him a piece of Paper: After which, when they let him know that the Paper which he had given the Governor had told him all the Business, then . . . Capt. Smith was a Deity and to be Worshipp'd, for that he had Power to make the Paper Speak.

—Daniel Defoe. An Essay on the Original of Literature, 1726
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374103704, Hardcover)

Fresh-squeezed Lexicology, with Twists

No man of letters savors the ABC’s, or serves them up, like language-loving humorist Roy Blount Jr. His glossary, from ad hominy to zizz, is hearty, full bodied, and out to please discriminating palates coarse and fine. In 2008, he celebrated the gists, tangs, and energies of letters and their combinations in Alphabet Juice, to wide acclaim. Now, Alphabetter Juice. Which is better.

This book is for anyone—novice wordsmith, sensuous reader, or career grammarian—who loves to get physical with words. What is the universal sign of disgust, ew, doing in beautiful and cutie? Why is toadless, but not frogless, in the Oxford English Dictionary? How can the U. S. Supreme Court find relevance in gollywoddles? Might there be scientific evidence for the sonicky value of hunch? And why would someone not bother to spell correctly the very word he is trying to define on Urbandictionary.com?

Digging into how locutions evolve, and work, or fail, Blount draws upon everything from The Tempest to The Wire. He takes us to Iceland, for salmon-watching with a “girl gillie,” and to Georgian England, where a distinguished etymologist bites off more of a “giantess” than he can chew. Jimmy Stewart appears, in connection with kludge and the bombing of Switzerland. Litigation over supercalifragilisticexpialidocious leads to a vintage werewolf movie; news of possum-tossing, to metanarrative.

As Michael Dirda wrote in The Washington Post Book World, “The immensely likeable Blount clearly possesses what was called in the Italian Renaissance ‘sprezzatura,’ that rare and enviable ability to do even the most difficult things without breaking a sweat.” Alphabetter Juice is brimming with sprezzatura. Have a taste.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:25 -0400)

After 40 years of making a living using words in every medium, print or electronic, Blount still can't get over his ABCs. In "Alphabet Juice," he celebrates the juju, the sonic and kinetic energies of letters and their combinations.

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