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Alpha to Omega: The Life and Times of the Greek Alphabet Paperback – July, 1983

ISBN-13: 978-0879234614 ISBN-10: 087923461X

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: David R Godine Pub (July 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087923461X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879234614
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,905,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Fresh and interesting. A painless, good-humored refresher in history, mythology, economics, warfare, literature, and language. --Philadelphia Inquirer --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Saul Boulschett on May 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
The word 'polymath'(one who know a lot about many subjects) is Greek and that is what the Humez bros are considered to be. Learned they are indeed, and so gracious about it too.
You'd think this book was modeled after Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy as the book is composed of one digression after another -- but without ever losing the thread. Very humorous and informative tour, by way of digressions, of not only the Greek language but also of current English words with Greek origins.
Obscure factoids about linguistics, mathematics, dead languages like Phoenician, and Greek myths, history and literature await to delight the reader on every page.
For example, in talking about hydro-, hypo-, hyper, and hygro-, the authors also manage to fill you in on some delightful trivia about the process of making glass --- all in the same paragraph.
In reading this book, you'll be convinced that there is not a single boring letter in the alphabet.
I gave this book to my academically disinclined nephew many years ago, and he was so turned on to learning afterwards that he eventually ended up going to a hard-to-get-in East Coast school. Highly recommended to all but especially to smart young people who are bored to tears by school.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Giannattasio on April 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent introduction not only to the greek alphabet but to the origin and meaning of many english words as well. The authors start each chapter with a letter from the greek alphabet. They then demonstrate how many words from english are derived from those greek words beginning with that letter. It is a fascinating and intriguing foray into the world of word meanings and origins.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hippoclides on February 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Following on the heels of the same authors' Latin for People, this is a book about Greek-origin words in English and their social history. With a rich array of examples the Humez brothers convincingly argue that the relationship between words and ideas is a continuous feedback loop, and that importing a concept from some other culture generally means importing the other folks' word for it as well. The hidden agenda of this book is its crash course in Greek culture, from wine to theater (both thanks to the god Dionysos, the Greeks thought) to writing itself. Bite-sized chapters of words starting with a given Greek letter (beta for boustrophedon, for example) allow this book to be read at many sittings, a buffet for intellectual snacking. Warning: the reviewer who once described these authors as "manic digressives" was pretty well on the money. There is a LOT of information in here, not just about Greeks! But the side-excursions are invariably worth the trip.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Norman Plumer on February 22, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We have here an interesting and at times a far-reaching exploration of word origins. At times, it is also so far-reaching it seems disconnected from the root. The material whets the appetite but does not go far enough. The authors have a sense of humor but that is not enough to carry the book.
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By ISBN 1943 on August 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Had expected something a bit more scholarly about the Greek Alphabet, and though it certainly contains much valuable information it gets lost amidst all the extraneous stories and anecdotes that the authors imagine to be amusing. It might once have seemed so, but the humor has not worn well in the 30 years ago since its publication. The authors remind me of those car-talk brothers on public radio, constantly giggling at their own clever repartee.
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