What in the Word? Wordplay, Word Lore, and Answers to Your Peskiest Questions about Language

Published By: Mariner Books

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Writing/Publishing

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Reviewed by Connie Anderson
"A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."-- Mark Twain

Just when I thought I was kind of savvy about word usage, What in the Word proved me wrong on almost every page.

Did you know that "manuscript" means "written by hand"?

If I only read the quotes, Bodacious Brainteasers, Fascinating Facts and great sidebars, this book would have been worth my time. But I read more.

This is an excellent book if you are simply interested in the English language, are a teacher or a writer, or like me, also edit. Boy, the author didn't miss a thing.

Have you wondered about the difference between and correct usage of
-- lectern and podiu
-- celibate and chas
-- bi-monthly and bi-weekl
-- lay and lie (I hate this one
-- people and perso
-- may and migh
He details those and ton more in the 262 pages.

Here's some clarity the author wants to share:

1. Whether or not: Or not can be used but it is redundant
2. You can begin a sentence with and or but. Whew, good to know
3. J.D. (stands for Jurius Doctor) is the only correct initial to refer to a lawyer. (Don't even go there!
4. To remember to use fewer or less, he explains that fewer is something you can count whereas less is...well, my training partner Kären and I use this well-worn beer commercial to explain: "Fewer calories, less filling." You can count the fewer calories (number), and it's always plural, but the less is a degree or amount and is singular.
5. I could care less/I couldn't care less. The first version is sarcastic; the second correct.

The author answers questions about words I never knew I didn't know, but it was very interesting. Lot of it is "what's a word for....?" That includes all kinds of weird things you'll likely never use, but it was fun nonetheless.

Armchair Interviews says: What in the Word is fun to read while you learn new things and clear up some old word myths.

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