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English Sketches From Life

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up my essay, I end it.


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The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate -  This unique and concise compendium presents the most confused and misused words in the language today -- words misused by careless speakers and writers everywhere. It defines, discerns and distinguishes the finer points of sense and meaning. Was it fortuitous or only fortunate? Are you trying to remember, or more fully recollect? Is he uninterested or disinterested? Is it healthful or healthy, regretful or regrettable, notorious or infamous? The answers to these and many more fascinating etymological questions can be found within the pages of this invaluable (or is it valuable?) reference.

Eat Your Words : A Fascinating Look at the Language of Food - Why do we use the expression "selling like hotcakes"? Who put Melba in melba toast, and what the heck is a hush puppy? Charlotte Foltz Jones, author of the delightful, fact-filled books Mistakes That Worked and Accidents May Happen, applies her bloodhound-like research talents to the language of food in Eat Your Words. As she states in her introduction, "Because food is necessary to survival, our entire culture is based on it. It's in our laws, our money, our superstitions, our celebrations, and especially our language." She calls her book "a shopping list of curious food etymology, and a menu of the origins of funny-sounding food." Indeed. Readers will discover who the Stroganoff is in Beef Stroganoff and how a Caesar Salad has nothing to do with Julius Caesar.

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary - From the well known best-selling author of great books: The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa comes a truly wonderful celebration of the English language and of its unrivaled treasure house, the Oxford English Dictionary. Writing with marvelous brio, Simon Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language--'so vast, so sprawling, so wonderfully unwieldy '--and pays homage to the great dictionary makers, from 'the irredeemably famous' Samuel Johnson to the 'short, pale, smug and boastful' schoolmaster from New Hartford, Noah Webster.

The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had - The Well-Educated Mind, debunking our own inferiority complexes, is a wonderful resource for anyone wishing to explore and develop the mind's capacity to read and comprehend the "greatest hits" in fiction, autobiography, history, poetry, and drama. Far from tossing readers into the swarming sea of classics and demanding that they swim, this book offers brief, entertaining histories of five literary genres, accompanied by detailed instructions on how to read each type. The annotated lists at the close of each chapter—ranging from Cervantes to A. S. Byatt, Herodotus to Paul Gilroy - preview recommended reading and encourage readers to make vital connections between ancient traditions and contemporary writing.
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