The Word on Words by Norman German
The Play of Language

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Awarded "Best of 2011" in Arts & Letters by Kirkus Review!

This is NOT your parents’ vocabulary book.

The Word on Words uses interesting word origins and humor as memory devices for the reader to build a dynamic vocabulary with practical applications in education, business, law, and other fields.

The Word on Words is a new kind of vocabulary book, combining learning and entertainment like no text you’ve ever read. It defines 1,500 words in the context of fascinating essays about art, history, literature, pop culture, sports, and psychology. The book also emphasizes the playful aspects of language—hence its subtitle, The Play of Language. As my wife says, “You learn better if you have a smile on your face.”

The book has five focuses: vocabulary, etymology, mnemonic devices, usage, and the ludic or playful aspects of language. The Word on Words is ideal for those preparing for aptitude or admission tests such as the SAT and ACT. It’s perfect, too, as a supplemental text in ESL classes for those acquiring English as a second language.

It’s all in here: humorous explanations of palindromes, acronyms, anagrams, spoonerisms, and false splitting—the way “a napple” transformed into “an apple”—in the context of revelatory essays about phobias, Mother’s Day, the birds and the bees, Father’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, euphemisms, and the origins of the days of the week and months of the year: all emphasized by entertaining end-of-chapter tests and crossword puzzles!

*If supported by your device, like Kindle Fire or iPad, The Word on Words is in full color!

**See for the LARGE full-color paperback (8-by-10 inches).

CAUTION: The Word on Words is NOT ideal for viewing on small readers because of charts and graphics.

KIRKUS REVIEW (posted in its entirety) The English language gets pulled up by its roots for purposes of entertainment, enlightenment and vocabulary building in this sprightly linguistic romp. The author, an English professor, introduces readers to some of the knottier words in the language through an approach that mixes analysis, history and lots of engaging anecdotes. His method is to seize on dusty old lexical roots, usually from Latin but also from Greek, Old English, Norse and French, and follow their branchings through the modern English words derived from them, with plenty of lore and intriguing digressions thrown in to make the pedagogy go down easy. He traces the Latin verb spectare (to watch), for example, through its many incarnations, from spectacle to expectant, while tossing in allusions to Shakespeare and Byron and an aside on the evolution of false eyes as defensive camouflage in the animal kingdom. German takes a meandering path through the lexicon, always happy to wander off on oddball excursions to, say, palindromes (“senile felines”), spoonerisms (after Rev. Spooner, who reminded one bridegroom that it’s “kisstomary to cuss the bride”), bizarre phobias (arachibutyrophobia, he says, is the fear of sticky peanut butter), lyrically named bird collectives (exaltations of larks, wisps of snipe and parliaments of owls), unsafe anagrams (rearrange mother-in-law and you get “woman Hitler”) and miscellaneous life lessons (“[n]ever use a poly-syllabic Latin word where a one-syllable Anglo-Saxon word will do”). Along the way, German defines over 1,500 big, troublesome words and reinforces reader retention with engaging exercises, including crossword puzzles and fill-in-the-blank quizzes that require one to insert the words aardvark, blasphemy, cremains, cyborg and eunuch into plausible sentences. It’s a fun read that sparkles with photographs, bright colors and crazy-quilt fonts. But this smorgasbord is still a serious textbook—readers will gain not just a store of factoids, but a sharpened ability to analyze new words and a deeper appreciation for the history and beauty of the language. Lively, informative and thoroughly beguiling

About Norman German

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Dr. Norman German is an award-winning teacher and writer who has taught vocabulary and etymology courses for over thirty years. In addition to publishing nearly 50 pop articles on various aspects of language, his essay "The Veil of Words in 'The Minister's Black Veil'" was singled out in 1990 as a significant contribution to Nathaniel Hawthorne scholarship. Among his four novels, the best-selling A Savage Wisdom imaginatively reconstructs the life of Toni Jo Henry, the only woman executed in Louisiana's electric chair. Dr. German has also published articles on Ernest Hemingway, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ray Carver, James Dickey, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, and other important American writers. His short stories have been featured in leading literary magazines like Shenandoah and The Virginia Quarterly Review, as well as commercial venues, including Salt Water Sportsman and Sport Fishing. Norman has studied literature, linguistics, Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, and German at McNeese State University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is a professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University.
Published May 6, 2011 by River Road Press. 128 pages
Genres: Education & Reference.

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Spooner, who reminded one bridegroom that it’s “kisstomary to cuss the bride”), bizarre phobias (arachibutyrophobia, he says, is the fear of sticky peanut butter), lyrically named bird collectives (exaltations of larks, wisps of snipe and parliaments of owls), unsafe anagrams (rearrange mother-in...

May 19 2011 | Read Full Review of The Word on Words: The Play o...

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