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The Word Circus: A Letter-Perfect Book (Lighter Side of Language Series) Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 30, 1998


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, April 30, 1998
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 295 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0877793549
  • ASIN: B000I0RT74
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 6.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,891,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Richard Lederer gets a greater charge out of the English language than a kid gets from a Volkswagen full of clowns. His playful examination of "the most tintinnabulating of the world's tongues" in The Word Circus is more fun than a barrel of monkeys (however fun that is), and Dave Morice's illustrations are no sideshow: they are as clever and charming as the text they accompany.

There's a lot going on in Lederer's big tent. Words are beheaded in one ring (the devil becomes evil) and curtailed in another (watch this priest become someone who pries). Over there, they're being cut right in two (does he bewilder? Be wilder!). Step right up, barks our emcee at the homophone (ewe/u/yew/you), and watch me juggle one phrase to make another: hand me the nudist colony and I'll show you no untidy clothes. Palindromes, like push-me-pull-yous, parade to and fro. And oh, the verbal freaks you'll meet: grammagrams, heteronyms, vowelless things; consonant packs (catchphrase) and silent strings (Brougham).

According to Lederer, the late poet James Merrill once commented that, "We speak wistfully of sounding the depths of language, but language has its shallows too, and we can drown in those just as easily as in the raptures of the former." Lederer certainly does. Let his circus begin! --Jane Steinberg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Richard Lederer (born May 26, 1938) is an American author, speaker, and teacher best known for his books on word play and the English language and his use of oxymorons. His column, "Looking at Language", is syndicated in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States.

In 1998, he, along with Charles Harrington Elster, became founding co-hosts of the weekly radio show, A Way with Words, broadcast by KPBS, San Diego Public Radio, and heard world-wide via streaming internet and podcast. In October, 2006, Lederer retired from A Way with Words. He continues broadcasting through regular guest appearances on several major market public and Clear-Channel commercial radio stations.

Lederer attended Haverford College as a pre-med student. He attended Harvard Law School for one year, then switched to the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at Harvard University. He taught English and media at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire for 27 years, and earned a Ph.D in Linguistics from the University of New Hampshire.

He has written more than 30 books, including Anguished English, Get Thee to a Punnery, Crazy English, A Man of My Words, The Word Circus, The Miracle of Language, The Cunning Linguist, and Word Wizard, and Presidential Trivia. Known as a "verbivore", a word he coined in the early 1980s, Lederer's interests include uncovering word origins, pointing out common grammatical errors and fallacies, and exploring palindromes, anagrams, and other forms of recreational wordplay. He has been elected International Punster of the Year and was the 2002 recipient of the Golden Gavel of Toastmasters International. He is a member of American Mensa, and is often a featured speaker at its gatherings.

Lederer is the father of Howard Lederer and Annie Duke, both world-renowned poker players, and Katy Lederer, an author and poet. He lives with his wife, Simone van Egeren, in San Diego, California. They met at a Mensa Gathering.



Poet and artist Dave Morice received his PhD in library science from the University of Iowa and continues to bring the magic of poetry to people of all ages through his work in senior centers and public schools. He is the author and illustrator of many books for children and adults, including The Dictionary of Word Play, The Adventures of Dr. Alphabet, and Poetry Comics: An Animated Anthology.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I never dreamt there could be a book about language that was so much fun. Richard Lederer's text truly creates a circus, complete with acrobats, clowns, animal tamers, lions, tigers--wow! Dave Morice's hilarious cartoons leap off the page and fly through the air with the greatest of ease. There must be at least 300 drawings in so many different styles that there's a surprise on every page. It's amazing that Lederer and Morice have produced a book where words and pictures interact as perfectly as they do. I've never seen this done so well before. This must be the greatest, most entertaining wordplay book of all. I hope they put together a new show soon! Encore!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gene Holmerud on September 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I have been fortunate to have a pre-publication copy of Word Circus. This is the first time I have enjoyed my native language!
My prior reactions to composition and reading pushed me to computerdom and geekdom. Word Circus showed me our language too has those twists and relationships that I find appealing in computerdom. Richard Lederer has put together more twists and relationships in this book than a year of soap operas!
Besides, it's a hoot!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eliz on April 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It's found in the sea like pirate's loot
Cut off its tail, and now it's a fruit
Cut off its tail once more and you read
The name of a vegetable small as a seed (Lederer 116)
After reading Richard Lederer's The Word Circus you will be able to look at riddles like these and come up with the answers. The Word Circus is a fun way to become more alert to the words we use every day. Lederer makes you think about words, and he relates them to the circus. His entire book takes you through a circus; he starts with the barker who introduces the book and tells you what you should expect to see in the chapters following. He introduces you to things such as grammargrams, words that are pronounced and consistent only of letter sounds. Like the word cutie, which could be written as QT. He also talks about anagrams, beheadment, curtailment, palindromes, semordnilabs, acrobatic words, charade words and kangaroo words, all different ways to look and play with words. Lederer has fun with words and after reading his book it is easy to begin playing with words yourself. It is a great book to accompany any class studying the elements of words, or just for someone who wants to become more aware of the English language.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joseph O'Neill on March 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Word Circus is a wonderfully entertaining look at the English language. The cartoon illustrations are a great addition. Well worth a look if you are interested in the many different ways the English language can be used to amuse, or confuse.
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