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Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and…
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Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and… (2008)

by Roy Blount Jr.

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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Read by the author. Very funny, might be good to read in print as well. So much packed in. Great to hear Roy Blount read. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
This book is scholarly and well researched by a master wordsmith and a devoted word lover, but it sometimes becomes too much in one stretch. Often quoteable. ( )
  herbcat | Nov 19, 2012 |
Roy Blount , Jr. goes through the alphabet letter by letter, talking about whatever words and phrases happen to catch his attention. He delves into etymologies, comments on usage, shares snippets of writing (his own and others') that he particularly likes or dislikes, makes jokes, and talks a great deal about the sounds of words and his appreciation for the ones that sound somehow appropriate for their meanings or connotations.

I was tremendously enthusiastic about this book at first. I mean, look at the subtitle: "The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory." How can a language lover resist a description like that? "Wow," I was saying to myself by the time I got through the introduction, "here is someone who indeed knows how to squeeze the juice from language! I can practically taste all those wonderful words on my tongue!" But I quickly started to feel rather disappointed. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's all just a little too random. Or it's due to the fact that Blount's approach feels a bit too fanciful to me at some times and a bit too pedantic at others. Or that he often seems to me to be trying a little too hard to be clever and witty. Maybe it's just that his sense of humor and mine don't entirely line up.

It's not that I didn't find any of it enjoyable. It's sometimes quite funny and sometimes genuinely informative, but it just didn't quite deliver on the concentrated linguistic delight it seemed to promise. ( )
1 vote bragan | Jan 10, 2012 |
Three stars for content, one extra for Blount's espièglerie in writing such an idiosyncratic book. No slouch in the word dept, he brushes Chomsky aside, and argues that words in general have a more onomotopaeic quality than the linguists tend to credit them with. He has all kinds of fun chasing down etymologies and occasionally inventing them, rambling on about his favorite words. For Blount is not a theorist of words, but someone who loves words. As he himself notes, this is a sort of dictionary, not meant to be read through, but browsed. And having browsed it unto completion, I am right glad to have done it. Bless your vocabulary, your thinking, your writing, and your funny bone, and read Alphabet Juice. ( )
  cjsdg | Oct 14, 2011 |
This book is a whole lot of fun. Now, I have to admit…I’m a grammar/word geek, so it is easy for me to fall in love with the book. But I’ve got to think anyone would enjoy it because it is more than just a book about words. It is about Roy Blount, Jr., and it is about politics, and it is about culture (particularly the south), and it is about funny. And, never forget, it is also about words – a love of and reverence for words.

Organized in alphabetical order (now, why doesn’t that surprise me), Blount picks and chooses the words he wants to talk about. In some cases he only spends one line on a word. In others he spends a page or two. It all depends on what he feels like talking about at the time. Here’s just a hint of how varied the word choice is. The entry for “E” starts with “editing”, then moves on to “eerie”, “egg”, “eggcorn”, “egg jokes”, “either”, then “electricity/chewing tobacco”. (“What do these things have in common? They both involve juice…”)

But let’s get back to that word thing. What completely sells it for me is when Blount digs into the words people use incorrectly, and his abhorrence of such practices. For example: the misuse of “hopefully”, a discussion of adverbial or adjectival drift (and don’t you just love the use of the word “adjectival”), what “beg the question” really means, the concept of “Moebius statements”, etc. (Surprisingly, he doesn’t even mention “etc.”, let alone its use by people too lazy to finish a thought.)

Get this book. You will be entertained and actually learn something. But, honest, there won’t be too much of that learning thing. ( )
  figre | Jul 11, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Humorist Roy Blount Jr.'s latest offering may be the most entertaining book you'll never finish. And that's not a knock. It's a nod to Blount's own counsel. "If you read this book the way I would read it and the way I've written it," he suggests in his introduction, "you will wear it out, thumbing back and forth, without ever being sure you've read it all."

"Alphabet Juice" is a sort of circular madcap dictionary. Which is to say, a book about words, compiled alphabetically and with great wit, but according to no other apparent program. Thus it begins with a rambling consideration of the word "a" (and the retelling of a joke about college football players) and ultimately concludes with the word "'zzyzva" (a class of weevils), as well as an invitation to think about the word "aah," which is the book's third entry, found way back on Page 12.
 
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Book description
Roy Blount, Jr., may lament that he's never been cited in a dictionary, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know a lot about words. As he shares that knowledge, Blount, who's on the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel, revels in wordplay and alliteration as he demonstrates his joy at the sounds of language. His Georgia roots still present in his voice, Blount reads his book with a quick drawl as he jumps from topic to topic. It may be in alphabetical order, but there's willful disorder to Blount's collection of news items, anecdotes, explanations of origins of words, and opinions. Listeners are sure to be entertained and could even learn something while having a chuckle. -- J.A.S. audiofile magazine
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374103690, Hardcover)

Ali G: How many words does you know?

Noam Chomsky: Normally, humans, by maturity, have tens of thousands of them.

Ali G: What is some of 'em?

—Da Ali G Show
 
Did you know that both mammal and matter derive from baby talk? Have you noticed how wince makes you wince? Ever wonder why so many h-words have to do with breath?
 
Roy Blount Jr. certainly has, and after forty years of making a living using words in every medium, print or electronic, except greeting cards, he still can’t get over his ABCs. In Alphabet Juice, he celebrates the electricity, the juju, the sonic and kinetic energies, of letters and their combinations. Blount does not prescribe proper English. The franchise he claims is “over the counter.”

Three and a half centuries ago, Thomas Blount produced Blount’s Glossographia, the first dictionary to explore derivations of English words. This Blount’s Glossographia takes that pursuit to other levels, from Proto-Indo-European roots to your epiglottis. It rejects the standard linguistic notion that the connection between words and their meanings is “arbitrary.” Even the word arbitrary is shown to be no more arbitrary, at its root, than go-to guy or crackerjack. From sources as venerable as the OED (in which Blount finds an inconsistency, at whisk) and as fresh as Urbandictionary.com (to which Blount has contributed the number-one definition of alligator arm), and especially from the author’s own wide-ranging experience, Alphabet Juice derives an organic take on language that is unlike, and more fun than, any other.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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

» see all 2 descriptions

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