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Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret ... With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory Paperback – September 29, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Blount does push one particular thesis in the book. Contrary to those scholars who hold that the relationship between a word and its meaning is arbitrary, Blount insists that the sound of many words "somehow sensuously evoke[s] the essence of the word." To characterize this quality, he coins the word "sonicky." A few miscellaneous examples (out of hundreds) of sonicky words from the book: "crunch," "gallop," "grunt," "mum," and "squelch." Blount: "If linguisticians can't hear any correspondence between sound and sense in those words, they aren't listening. Even when words aren't coined with sound and sense conjunctively in mind, the words that sound most like what they mean have a survival advantage." And throughout the book, Blount marshals plenty of evidence for this thesis.
But please don't get the idea that ALPHABET JUICE is some sort of high-brow, academic tome. To fully appreciate it, one certainly needs to be generally literate and to care about words and language, but one does not need to hold a graduate degree in English or in linguistics.Read more ›
"Alphabet Juice" reaches readers on two levels, I would guess. There are the appreciative mavens of wordom (worddom....word-dom?) who will chuckle and te-hee but the hardcore wordies (of the latter am I) revel in this kind of thing. Ya gotta give Blount credit when, regarding bow-wow, he can't imagine a dog forming a "b". And the last entry on "hip", referring to the guy who had a double hip operation, is one of his best.
Much of the reader's particular interest in this book might be found in how Blount exposes words knowing we may see them differently. I loved "wrought". He dwells on the "ugh" of the word while I wondered how many words in our language could add a letter to both the beginning and the end of "rough" and still come up with a word. The author is a good teacher in that he reminds us of jots and tittles but also adds "clitic" without fear of an "r"-rating.
This is a book to be savored. The narrative sometimes wanders but keep your eyes peeled for the moments when he is spot-on. This is the best book on language to come out in years and I highly recommend it.
Take, for instance, _zigzag_, which Blount finds is from the French _ziczac_ and German _zickzack_. "I have to say, ours is better. Those _ck_ or hard _c_ sounds are hitches that hold too long; our _g_ takes just long enough to evoke a change in direction that's marked but quick.Read more ›
This is a book that I can sit down and read for five minutes or three hours because of how it is set up, and every entry has a life of its own.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read, but also to anyone who loves to talk, because quite often the sounds of words are discussed, which I think is part of what makes this book stand out from others like it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More information than I care to read. Parts are fun and interesting but too much is boring and excessive.Published 17 months ago by P. Wilson
Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount, jr. is a romp. Blount has brought together etymology, humor and erudition in his investigation into words and they wayward journeys in the English... Read morePublished 18 months ago by MICHAEL O.
This was such a FUN book! It's also unlike any other book out there--part dictionary, part etymological treatise, and part grammar & usage guide woven through with fun anecdotes... Read morePublished on June 10, 2013 by Emily Ann Meyer
Roy Blount is clever and chatty, and has surely done his homework. If you're looking for narrative about word origins and their connections to other words and ideas, this is... Read morePublished on March 10, 2013 by Julie Reynolds-Otrugman
When I was last home for Christmas, my mother pretty much shoved this book into my hands and said, "You have to read this. Read morePublished on June 22, 2012 by Chris Gladis
Blount is obviously a clever writer. Nevertheless, this is a book that too often either tiredly trumpets his political leanings or rambles autobiographically to the point of... Read morePublished on April 22, 2010 by WCF Reviewer
I make a hobby of reading books on language and linguistics, and this is one of the 3 worst books on the subject I have read. Read morePublished on March 17, 2010 by RDucky
I must have at least a half dozen books on language, with titles like The Word Museum, Words and Phrases Origins, Word Play and Words at Play. Read morePublished on February 14, 2010 by L. Pearl