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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
 

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Virtual Words: Snapshot of current tech speak is a fun and easy read

Deborah Schaffer

Many people love etymology, even if they might not be familiar with the term. Venues exploring the fascinating meanings and background of words — books, articles, newspaper columns, electronic newsletters (see, for example, “The Word Guy” with Rob Kyff), and websites (such as Richard Lederer’s Verbivore) — have abounded at least since Samuel Johnson included occasional tidbits of word histories and social commentary in his Dictionary of the English Language from 1755. Consider Johnson’s well-known definition of oats as “a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” Ambrose Bierce gave his own twisted take on word meanings in The Devil’s Dictionary (1911), as in his definition of telephone: “An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.”

On my to-read pile alone, I have such similar word-focused collections as Martha Barnette’s Dog Days and Dandelions: A Lively Guide to the Animal Meanings Behind Everyday Words, Rick Bayan’s The Cynic’s Dictionary, Castle Books’ Why Do We Say It? The Stories Behind the Words, Expressions and Clichés We Use, Chrysti the Wordsmith’s (Chrysti M. Smith) Verbivore’s Feast: A Banquet of Word & Phrase Origins, and Evan Morris’ The Word Detectives.

But now I can move yet another etymological compendium to my has-been-read pile:...

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Above excerpt taken from the March 2011 issue of MultiLingual published by MultiLingual Computing, Inc., 319 North First Avenue, Suite 2, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864-1495 USA, 208-263-8178, Fax: 208-263-6310. Subscribe

March, 2011