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**This Week's Issue**
NOTE: The links in this newsletter are good until the next issue is
In Spotlight we give you Clouds
In Words to the Wise we bring you the following words:
riding the rail/run out of town on a rail
In Curmudgeons' Corner Guestmudgeon Dick Timberlake wants folks to back
In Sez You... we hear about more enverbing of nouns; "an historical";
lost letters; "pecan" pronunciation; more on draught; British English
vs. American English; and wienerbrød
In Laughing Stock we bring you restrooms situated in a very interesting
"Words to the Wise, A Lighthearted Look at the English Language" by
Michael Sheehan, foreword by Richard Lederer (who recently posted to
our blog, check it out!), 240 pages, Arbutus Press, Michigan. $15
This book represents a selection of pieces from the radio show "Words
to the Wise" which airs weekly on WTCM in Traverse City, Michigan.
Listeners pose word queries to Sheehan, who answers them on air with
authority and wit. We have to say that "Words to the Wise" is a
great choice for the title. If only we'd thought of something that
catchy... but wait, we did. [However, Sheehan and TOWFI came up with
the title independently, rather like Newton and Liebniz both inventing
Unlike our "Words to the Wise", which answers questions on the
origins of words and phrases, Sheehan's WTTW ranges far and wide -
from questions of grammar and usage to why English lost its genders.
There is even a list of strange place-names with one example for each
state of the union. (Had you heard of Tarbox Corner, Rhode Island or
Humptulips, Washington?). Another amusing feature is the inclusion of
vocabulary quizzes with some truly forbidding words. Would you know,
for example, which of "gnathal", "buccal", "crural" and "ungual" means
"relating to fingernails or toenails"? It is, of course, "ungual"
(it helps to remember that ungulate means "with hooves" and hooves
are more-or-less toenails).
Sometimes, instead of posing questions, the listeners have offered
examples of malapropisms and otherwise-mangled English culled from the
pages of local newspapers. These include "...attaching a wench to the
vehicle", "...sorting through the maize of media available", and
a CD "sound tract". Occasionally, questions have only a tangential
connection to the world of words but Sheehan gamely answers those, too.
"Is there," someone asks, "a patron saint of writers?" Not only
do we learn that there is, we are also treated to the bonus information
that the patron saint of arms dealers is St. Adrian of Nicomedia. So,
who is the patron of writers? Why, St. Francis of Sales, naturally.
Here's wishing plenty of sales for Michael Sheehan!
This book is offered for sale in the "main lobby" of our book store.
Please send us material for Laughing Stock. This week's winner,
Melanie (no, not this Melanie), will receive a $10 gift certificate to
Amazon.com. Thanks, Melanie!
We have a guestmudgeon this week, Dick Timberlake (a long-time reader
of TOWFI), ranting about compound adjectives and nouns.
We put some pretty cool stuff in the blog. The "bootylicious"
discussion was previewed there as early as last weekend. We also
discuss some follow-up etymologies like that of "swag"/"shwag". And we
get some famous folk, like Martha Barnette and Richard Lederer, posting
comments on the blog now and again! Check it out.
Would you be interested if we offered BLACK t-shirts? We are looking
into it. http://www.cafepress.com/towfi
We are so busy with researching that we haven't had a moment to review
a couple of books we've had for a little while: "Dubious Doubles" by
Stewart Edelstein and "Ballyhoo, Buckaroo and Spuds" by Michael
Quinion. We also managed to get our hands on the OED on CD-ROM,
version 3.1 (quite affordable as an upgrade), and we'll review it,
soon, as well. Meantime, see Michael Sheehan's book in the book store.
Until next time,
Take Our Word For It!
Melanie and Mike