This guide to idioms provides the student with an "ace up your sleeve " Idioms bring color to our speech every day. Included are idioms from Native American and African American speech as well as the Bible, Aesop, and Shakespeare.
AN ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR
The Secret Life of Words is a wide-ranging account of the transplanted, stolen, bastardized words we've come to know as the English languag. It's a history of English as a whole, and of the thousands of individual words, from more than 350 foreign tongues, that trickled in gradually over hundreds of years of trade, colonization, and diplomacy. Henry Hitchings narrates the story from the Norman Conquest to the present day, chronicling the English language as a living archive of human experience.
A SAMPLE OF THE THOUSANDS OF STORIES BEHIND THE WORDS:
- Alcatraz Island was named by a Spanish explorer who arrived in 1775 to find the island covered with pelicans, or alcatraces. And "alcatraces"? The word goes back to the Arabic al-qadus, which was a bucket used in irrigation that resembled the bucket beaks of pelicans.
- What does a walnut have to do with walls? The word comes from the Old English walhnutu, meaning foreign nut. They were originally grown in Italy and imported, and the northern Europeans named them to distinguish them from the native hazelnut.
- A crayfish is not a fish. The name comes from the old French word crevice, through the Old German crebiz and the modern French ecrevisse. The "fish" part is just the result of a mishearing."
The Secret Life of Words is a wide-ranging chronicle of how words witness history, reflect social change, and remind us of our past.
Slang, writes Michael Adams, is poetry on the down low, and sometimes lowdown poetry on the down low, but rarely, if ever, merely lowdown. It is the poetry of everyday speech, the people's poetry, and it deserves attention as language playing on the cusp of art. In Slang: The People's Poetry, Adams covers this perennially interesting subject in a serious but highly engaging way, illuminating the fundamental question "What is Slang" and defending slang--and all forms of nonstandard English--as integral parts of the American language. Why is an expression like "bed head" lost in a lexical limbo, found neither in slang nor standard dictionaries? Why are snow-boarding terms such as "fakie," "goofy foot," "ollie" and "nollie" not considered slang? As he addresses these and other lexical curiosities, Adams reveals that slang is used in part to define groups, distinguishing those who are "down with it" from those who are "out of it." Slang is also a rebellion against the mainstream. It often irritates those who color within the lines--indeed, slang is meant to irritate, sometimes even to shock. But slang is also inventive language, both fun to make and fun to use. Rather than complain about slang as "bad" language, Adams urges us to celebrate slang's playful resistance to the commonplace and to see it as the expression of an innate human capacity, not only for language, but for poetry.
Enhanced by photographs and line drawings, an entertaining and informative look at the rich diversity of the English language traces the origins and histories of two hundred everyday words with their roots in Spanish, including such familiar terms as vamoose, coyote, mosquito, mustang, chocolate, tomato, jerky, and many others. Original.
THE FASCINATING AND SURPRISING HISTORY OF ENGLISH SPELLING FROM DAVID CRYSTAL, EVERYONE'S FAVORITE EXPERT LOGOPHILE
With The Story of English in 100 Words, David Crystal took us on a tour through the history of our language. Now, with Spell It Out, he takes on the task of answering all the questions about how we spell: "Why is English spelling so difficult?" Or "Why are good spellers so proud of their achievement that when they see a misspelling they condemn the writer as sloppy, lazy, or uneducated?" In thirty-seven short, engaging and informative chapters, Crystal takes readers on a history of English spelling, starting with the Roman missionaries' sixth century introduction of the Roman alphabet and ending with where the language might be going. He looks individually at each letter in the alphabet and its origins. He considers the question of vowels and how people developed a way to tell whether or not it was long or short. He looks at influences from other cultures, and explains how English speakers understood that the "o" in "hopping" was a short vowel, rather than the long vowel of "hoping." If you've ever asked yourself questions like "Why do the words "their," "there" and "they're" sound alike, but mean very different things?" or "How can we tell the difference between "charge" the verb and "charge" the noun?" David Crystal's Spell It Out will spell it all out for you.
The Greek root of school means leisure.
A language where hearse and rehearse have the same root and the word dunce comes from a great philosopher, English has hundreds of every day words that originated or acquired their meaning in unusual ways. Dictionaries don't have the space to tell us all the mysteries, but now Dr. Funk, with humor and insight, tells us the strange and intriguing stories of hundreds of words and how they came to be a part of our language.
Do you know what a snollygoster is? Would you eat something called a muktuk? Do you know anyone who engages in onolatry? Impress your friends and pepper your dinner party conversations with such nuggets as gobemouche, mumpsimus, and cachinnate. You can learn about all of these bizarre and beautiful words and many more in Totally Weird and Wonderful Words. Offering a potpourri of colorful and fascinating words compiled by noted lexicographer Erin McKean, it contains hundreds of definitions, and has been updated to include two new essays, with over 150 words new to this edition. Written in a clear and conversational style, the book contains full-page cartoon illustrations by Roz Chast and Danny Shanahan. Featuring hundreds of words guaranteed to amuse and astonish, this is a book that will appeal to logophiles everywhere. It also features a bibliography of Oxford's dictionaries and a guide to creating your own unusual words correctly from Greek and Latin roots.
Once the language of thieves and beggars, slang is an ever present part of today's culture for people across the strata. It allows us to connect to others, to express otherwise guarded thoughts, and to convey humor in the everyday. But how did slang escape its stigma as the language of the streets and integrate itself so seamlessly with "standard English?"The Vulgar Tongue tells the full story of English language slang, from its origins in early British beggar books to its spread in American and Australian culture in the eighteenth century. The aim is not to record the history of the over 125,000 English words that make up the lexis. Rather, the author focuses on the common, often profane themes that run through the word-list--crime, sex, bodily parts and functions, insults, and drink and drugs--and their scope and function throughout the various cultures and overlapping subcultures of English language history, from the sporting world to the university campus to ethnic communities. In tracing its development and trajectory throughout the English-speaking world, Jonathon Green offers an impassioned defence for its vitality, showing how slang has grown into a modern, versatile vocabulary that has nevertheless established its own role in contemporary English. Drawing on thirty years' worth of research, The Vulgar Tongue is a celebration of the words and phrases of an overlooked aspect of human language and interaction.