Alphabet Juice

Alphabet Juice

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

eBook - 2009
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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 (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.

Publisher: New York : Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [2009, 2008]
Edition: First pbk. edition
Copyright Date: ©2008
ISBN: 9781429960427
Branch Call Number: PN6231.W64 B48 2009x
Characteristics: 1 downloadable text file.


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Jan 03, 2015

If you love words, this is one for you. It's funny and informative.

Oh, an earlier commenter mistyped: strouthokamelos is actually Greek for ostrich (see page 5).

McIndoo Dec 02, 2011

From Roy Blount Jr. who is on NPR's delightful program "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me".

Nov 15, 2011

This book is delicious, fun, and informative! Did you know that the Greek word for 'camel' was 'struthiokamelos' - literally 'sparrow-camel?'

Jan 21, 2010

Author Roy Blount loves letters. He loves words. He loves their sounds, their combinations, their meaning, their roots and parts and histories and foreign companions. And as a contributing editor to Atlantic Monthly, a regular panelist on the NPR quiz show ?Wait Wait?Don?t Tell Me!? and a usage consultant for the American Heritage Dictionary, Blount has been lucky enough to make a living with his love of language in all its written and spoken forms. Alphabet Juice is a dictionary, of sorts, or an encyclopedia; at least its entries are arranged in a standard A to Z format. But the stupendous subtitle of should supply enough of a hint that this book is interested in sheer fun as much as it is in fact, in the secret origins of the word ?stock,? in the joy inherent in the phrase ?speckled pup,? in explaining what a ?spoonerism? is?and that?s just a few entries from the S section. There are also entries on ?tallywacker,? ?hmmmm,? ?cowlick,? ?King Taufa?ahau,? and the controversial ?ain?t.? Blount waxes poetic about each letter (such as his detailed discussion of Homer Simpson?s infamous utterance ?D?oh!? in D?s entry), makes lists of the best one- and two- and three-word sentences (Touché. Jesus wept. The game?s afoot.), and drops names, literary allusions, and pop culture references a plenty. Blount himself acts as a keen and chatty guide through his engaging lexicon; it?s the kind of friendly book that you pick up, put down, flip through, pass around, and come back to over and over again. The passion in Alphabet Juice knows no bounds, and the reader will be utterly swept away by the glorious surprises of the good old ABCs.


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