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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.
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.