Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other Fascinating Facts about the English Language

Katherine Barber, Author Penguin Group(CA) $13 (220p) ISBN 978-0-14-303812-2
Editor-in-chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and celebrated word nerd Barber has put together a suitably snappy compendium of word origins. Organized by seasons, this snore-free guide to etymology presents more than 500 paragraph-long histories on everything from sports terms to teen-speak to Yiddish. Curious minds will learn that the modern definition of ""bidet"" comes from the 1300s French verb ""bider,"" meaning ""to trot""; the bathroom fixture in the 1750s took the name because of the straddling action one performs while using it. The word ""dunce"" was derived from the name of a once-revered medieval theologian, John Duns Scotus, who fell out of favor; his disciples were called ""Duns men"" or ""Dunses"" for short. And who knew that the first recorded usage of the phrase ""as if"" was in Frank Morris's 1903 novel The Pit ("" 'Maybe he'll come up and speak to us.' 'Oh, as if,' contradicted Laura. "")? No matter what word she puts under the microscope, Barber clearly takes its history seriously, but her light, witty descriptions make each discovery a pleasure. Ideal for dinner party discussions or bathroom reading.
Reviewed on: 04/30/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-101-20123-7
Paperback - 978-0-14-750404-3
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-0-19-542708-0
Open Ebook - 978-1-4295-2967-9
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-1-4295-2968-6
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-19-542440-9
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