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Crazy English Paperback – June 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Revised edition (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671023233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671023232
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the most unforgettable moments of my youth was learning the word pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. I was in third grade. So what if Richard Lederer has come up with a chemical compound that consists of 1,913 letters? Owning a word like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is empowering at any age. If you have ever been completely wowed by the power you can have over language, or its power over you, Richard Lederer is your patron saint. His oft-reprinted introduction to Crazy English, which was originally published in 1989, claims that English is "the most loopy and wiggy of all tongues." And then he demonstrates: "In what other language do people drive in a parkway and park in a driveway? ... Why do they call them apartments when they're all together?" And so on. Lederer's pace is frenetic. He alights on oxymorons ("pretty ugly," "computer jock"), redundancies, confusing words (are you sure you know the meaning of enormity?), phobias, contronyms, heteronyms, retroactive terms (acoustic guitar, rotary phone), and a host of other linguistic delights.

Though English may be one of the crazier languages--Lederer claims that about 80 percent of our words are not spelled phonetically--they are all, he says, a little crazy. "That's because language is invented ... by boys and girls and men and women, not computers. As such, language reflects the creative and fearful asymmetry of the human race, which, of course, isn't really a race at all." --Jane Steinberg

From Publishers Weekly

Lederer "adroitly mixes instruction with hilarity by showing that English, though the richest and most widely used of all the world's languages, is 'crazy.' The text is a dazzling collection of anagrams, alliterations, idioms, illogical spelling rules and larky oxymora," wrote PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Richard Lederer is a fly-by-the-roof-of-the-mouth verbivore, logolept, and wordaholic, perhaps the most wordstruck, word bethumped wordaholic you may ever encounter.

Dr. Lederer is the author of more than 40 books about language, history, and humor, including his best-selling ANGUISHED ENGLISH series and his current books, AMERICAN TRIVIA, AMAZING WORDS, HILARIOUS HOLIDAY HUMOR, and THE BIG BOOK OF WORDPLAY CROSSWORDS. His works range from bloopers and puns to word origins and word games to pets and American history.

With Charles Harrington Elster, Richard Lederer is founding co-host of "A Way With Words" on National Public Radio. His language columns appear in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States, including the San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE.

Richard Lederer has been named International Punster of the Year and Toastmasters International's Golden Gavel winner.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Richard Lederer's books are great.
Amazon Customer
Also recommended for teachers and professors who are looking for interesting and entertaining examples to use in class.
Krazy Star
Overall, I thought this was a very educational book and interesting to read.
Jon Huska

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Lizzi on July 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ever pick up a book to look up a fact or check your knowledge on something, and wind up losing track of time? I do that with this book far too often . . . and I never regret it. You can use "Crazy English" as a reference if you like, but what author Richard Lederer does best is make you chuckle at all the oddities of the English language.
This book is literally (ha!) packed with word origins, semantics, "confused" phrases, funny figures of speech, and even categories of words I didn't even know had a name (the "nyms"). The chapter about the doctor who speaks only in palindromes is a classic. Lederer's wit plays right into the theme of the book, and I would bet he had as much fun writing it as I have reading it. No need to start at the beginning; just open to any page and bounce around. It's all great fun, and easy reading.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon junkie on April 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
An interesting passage from the book -

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jon Huska on March 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Recently I read the book Crazy English by Richard Lederer for a school project. I thought it was a very interesting book and it really did explain why our English language is so crazy. My favorite part of the book was the Tense Times with Verbs secetion. There were very good poems written in this chapter to help explain and give examples of how our language doesn't make sense sometimes. Another good portion of the book is The Sounds of English, it talks about the many different letters that have different sounds and the words that have mute letters, or silent letters. It has a very indepth perspective of many different sounds and why they are spelled and said the way they are. Overall, I thought this was a very educational book and interesting to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Pellitteri on July 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
It's not a text book style book on the dusty history of the English language. Mr. Lederer writes an easy to read (pardon the expression) light hearted look at some of the eccentricities of the English language. Overall, a very enteratining read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
I teach English in Japan and not only is this book interesting but it gave me good ideas for teaching. I laughed out loud several times. English is indeed crazy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carol Peck on January 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The person who receive this gift enjoys it so much that he has a hard time putting it down to do what his wife asks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R Dail on August 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My favorites are: if pro is the opposite of con, then is progress the opposite of congress? Why is phonetic not spelled phonetically? Why is it so hard to remember how to spell mnemonic?
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By isala on April 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Having read Lederer's "Anguished English" first, I was expecting "Crazy English" to be as great and funny as the former book is. Instead, I found myself skipping several chapters because they were not even interesting to read, such as the one about rhymes. It seems that Lederer was more interested in having fun making sentences rhyme, but was not really thinking whether the readers would find such sentences amusing or even worth reading. However, some chapters, such as the one about the farmer that makes up his own words, are highly entertaining, and very educative. Chapters like this make the book worth buying, but I wouldn't have minded at all just checking it out from the library.
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