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Verbatim: From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists Paperback – October 17, 2001


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Verbatim: From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists + Totally Weird and Wonderful Words + Weird and Wonderful Words
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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Original
  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (October 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015601209X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156012096
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,324,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Verbatim, says the language quarterly's editor, Erin McKean, is "a magazine about all of the fun parts of English and linguistics, written for people who don't necessarily have a Ph.D." This collection of pieces culled from the quarterly is like a candy shop for word lovers. John Tittensor writes about unfortunate last names, Philip Michael Cohen discloses the secret lingo of tiddlywinks players, Pete May explores British football chants, and Jesse Sheidlower reports on the revising of his book The F-Word. Steve Bonner considers "the language as it will never be used," dreaming up evocative word combinations so unlikely that they'd never be uttered: "rotating strawberry madonna," "angry tuba gravy." McKean claims to like "that 'bad English' exists." She also maintains that one should resist correcting the grammar of others. "The easiest way to put your own utterances under intense scrutiny," she warns, "is to toss off a thoughtless public correction of someone else's." --Jane Steinberg

From Publishers Weekly

For lovers of the intricacies of language comes an anthology of the best writing from Verbatim: The Language Quarterly, which has been investigating, debating, and dissecting English for almost 30 years. Erin McKean, the magazine's editor since 1997, has collected lively essays on popular linguistics, dictionaries and the men and women who make them, English etymology and usage, and, of course, obscenity. From a consideration of "student bloopers" to a disquisition on the nature of slang, these thoughtful and often humorous offerings provide insight into the sophisticated systems of human communication in language that's appropriately fresh and, thankfully, jargon-free.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


More About the Author

Erin McKean is the founder of Wordnik.com. Previously, she was the editor in chief for American Dictionaries at Oxford University Press, and the editor of the New Oxford American Dictionary, 2E.

Her books include Weird and Wonderful Words, More Weird and Wonderful Words, Totally Weird and Wonderful Words, and That's Amore (which is also a collection of words). The Secret Lives of Dresses is her first novel, and really, her first book where the words are arranged in something other than alphabetical order.

Erin lives in California south of San Francisco and spends her free time reading, sewing, blogging, roller-skating, and arguing about whether robots or zombies would win in a fight (lasers optional). She loves loud prints, quiet people, long books with happy endings, and McVitie's Milk Chocolate Hobnobs.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amy Weihmann on April 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
I got this book as a Christmas present from my roommate but I didn't start to read it until after Easter. But I'm really glad I did. It was both funny and thought-provoking. There is so much most people don't know about the language we use every day. It was really interesting, and the articles are short and not technical at all so you don't get bogged down.
As I read through it I got really into it and was going to give a copy to my Dad for Father's Day. But then there was a whole article (really funny!) about new uses of the f-word and that's not really for parental units...my roommate said her parents loved it, though.
However, I liked this book so much that I googled the magazine Verbatim and subscribed!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Moravec on February 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I saw a review by Michael Quinion ([...] Although I enjoyed many of the essays in the book, the book was so poorly organized, I found myself very frustrated while reading it. Just a few editorial changes would have greatly improved it. It should have an index. The essays should be identified by the date they were published in the quarterly. Short intros to each essay providing some context and updating of the subject matter, as appropriate, would have made a big impact with a small amount of work on the part of the editor.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By fnordian on November 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
A friend of mine, knowing I'm a student of linguistics, lent me this book, and I'm glad she did; it was one of the most fun, yet relaxing, books I've read in some time. The majority of the essays are funny, and those that aren't are at least interesting (though I confess that there were a few of them I simply didn't care for, it was more than made up for by the others.) The format makes it perfect for short bursts of recreation, especially if you just have a bit of time to kill on the bus or while waiting for something.. it's an excellent book to be read in pieces (and would make a good "bathroom book", come to think of it.) Like other reviewers here, I enjoyed this book so much that I decided to subscribe to the periodical, and I would recommend it to linguists, grammarians and anyone else who enjoys language.
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