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December 15, 2008


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Thanks. The Thunderbolt Kid book looks like good reading and my library has it on the shelf in print and audiio. I'll just have to make up my mind whether to read or listen.

I don't want to nitpick (oh, who am I kidding, I've made a good living nitpicking), but I purposely don't call my book roundups "Best of" the season or year -- partly because I'm sure to have missed some excellent book, partly because it's about matching book to reader more than abstract rankings.

Thanks for the mention, and especially for the tip about Bryson's audiobook; sounds just right for this Midwestern kid of about the same vintage.

Apologies, Jan--at least I finally got your "former" status right! I fixed the post; hope it's more appropriate now.

Nancy: Another Midwestern kid (this one of a certain unstated vintage) is humbled by your praise and your kindness. Thank you.

And maybe, just to be cantankerous, we should say "verbed" instead of "verbified" . . .

Language is a living, breathing entity & your selections are feeding the creature.

Speaking of Bill Bryson, loved "The Mother Tongue - English & How It Got That Way." If for nothing else, I can now speak "Australian" - "scona rine"! :)

I'm passing this blog on to all my Word Lover friends. Thanks!

Another wonderful book for word lovers is "Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words: Gathered from Numerous and Diverse Authoritative Sources" by Josefa Heifetz Byrne. It's out of print, but worth seeking out. One of my favorite entries is "pornocracy: government by prostitutes."

Thanks for the other interesting links, and your blog.

Bill Bryson sometimes needs to check with locals more often when he talks about varieties of English other than his own. In Mother Tongue he gets it badly wrong twice about Australian English - we overwhelmingly eat biscuits, not cookies, and spell certain words like "colour" and "labour" the English way.

As well, pants are equal with trousers (though pants also includes slacks, whereas trousers are more specifically male), and post and mail are more interchangeable than he indicates.

He probably got mixed up with his example (labo(u)r) because the political party is spelled without the u (due to historical reasons involving a prominant American). But the word "labour" is _always_ spelled with a u otherwise. We also distinguish between practice and practise, and similar words, whereas Americans don't, or at least I am led to understand.

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