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Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do…
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Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other…

by Katherine Barber

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This is one of the better fun-with-etymology books I've come across. The style is light, readable, and good-humored, and the fact that the structure is thematic rather than alphabetical gives it a more coherent feeling than it might otherwise have had. (Apparently the chapters of the book originated as radio show segments, and there was a desire to make them sort of topical, so they're loosely organized around seasons and seasonal events.) It also does an excellent job of conveying the sense that English is an evolving, growing language, one that's become what it is because of generations of people making choices, deliberate or otherwise, about what to call things.

I recommend dipping in and out, though, rather than reading it straight through, as otherwise it can feel a bit repetitive at times. ( )
5 vote bragan | May 22, 2010 |
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To Gordon and Patricia Barber, who instilled in me a passion for words, a desire to learn foreign languages, a love of history, and an insatiable curiosity
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143038125, Paperback)

A delightfully addictive compendium of fascinating word facts that does for the dictionary what Eats, Shoots, and Leaves did for the manual of style

With the easy erudition and lively wit that have won her legions of fans, Canada’s "Word Lady" reveals the entertaining histories behind 500 of the most common words and phrases in the English language. Who knew that "travel" is derived from an instrument of torture? That "tragedy" originally had something to do with goats? That "glamour" and "grammar" started out as the same word? Katherine Barber’s captivating collection is organized by season, so readers can open to Valentine’s Day to learn about the origins of "passion fruit" or flip to Thanksgiving to find out why there aren’t any turkeys in Turkey. An irresistible blend of entertainment and enlightenment, this delightful book will captivate the word lover in all of us.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:58 -0400)

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