Strange Bedfellows

Strange Bedfellows

The Private Lives of Words

Book - 2010
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The English language has never been overly concerned with purity. For centuries it has slept around and been seduced by many foreign influences, indulging in promiscuous relations that have contributed to many alluring word histories. Combining his etymological talents with those of the muck-raking journalist, Howard Richler exposes the often louche baggage that many words have accumulated throughout the centuries.Discover how "exuberant" used to mean "luxuriantly fertile" and derivesoriginally from "overflowing udders." Learn how words such as "avocado" and "porcelain" have past associations with some of the nether regions of the body that have been conveniently forgotten by the lovers of fruit and fine china.With over two hundred select words to uncover, readers will be surprised and delighted by the unexpected liaisons in Strange Bedfellows.
Publisher: Vancouver : Ronsdale Press, c2010.
ISBN: 9781553801009
Branch Call Number: 422.4 RICHL
Characteristics: 161 p. ; 23 cm.

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Jan 24, 2012

Strange Bedfellows: The Private Lives of Words.
There seems recently to have been a rush of “word books”. The first one that comes to mind is Simon Winchester’s “The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary”. And where Winchester hold the high ground for erudition and seriousness it seems that Howard Richler may have staked out the opposite end of the lexicographical spectrum by focusing on a certain genre of words that may be amusing in a sophomoric kind of way. Here are some of the categories he pursues: “Ten Words you Never Knew came from Unmentionable Body Parts”, or how about “Ten Words You Never Knew Were Fart or Fecal Related”. You can almost see this book being put together in the wee hours in some Glaswegian pub by inebriated “students” making various rude noises and attempting to play “God Save the Queen” with the help of various body parts. It is somewhat amusing and it does redeem itself with chapters such as “Ten Words You Never Knew Came from the Military” and Ten Words You Never Knew Came from Religion”. Suggested target audience: precocious male grade ten students having a delayed shot at puberty. Very serious? I'm not sure. Amusing none the less.

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