Most people rarely learn a new word after they pass their last vocabulary test in school. That's a shame. Words and their origins can be the source of a lot of fun. Anu Garg makes that point obvious in The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two by providing clever word puzzles and word histories filled with fascinating details, humor, and irony. If you can't get enough after you read the book, subscribe to Garg's online weekly newsletter.
Let me give you two samples of the book:
1. "Orthographically speaking, what do the two countries Afghanistan and Tuvalu have in common?" (Hint: Look closely.)
2. "Dord: The word density had a short-lived synonym: dord . . . While the second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary was under way, an editor received an entry 'D or d,' which was defined as density, where the uppercase D and the lowercase d were abbreviations for the word density. The editor conflated the letters as dord and a new word was born."
The material is organized around themes into chapters with the quiz questions inserted to keep you awake. Entries are short so this is a good book to read when you just have a few minutes to spare. I read it while waiting for my car to be aligned, and the car guys were wondering what was so funny.
An on-going theme is the mobility of language as meanings grow, shift, and sometimes even become their polar opposites. I was particularly intrigued by the many mechanisms by which the real world turns into fiction and words and fiction creates new words with precise story-defined meanings.
Anu Garg has a sense of humor and a love of words that's contagious. This book would be a great gift for a youngster who is at that age where he or she would like to learn words that would puzzle others (the chapter on obscure insult words that people won't know are insulting would appeal to many a 13 year-old).
I actually was inspired by the many references to Dickens to want to read some of his books that I haven't read. Perhaps you will be, too.
The book also has an index that allows you to easily look up the word that intrigues you from its very appearance or sound (such as Throttlebottom perhaps).
Enjoy a Cook's tour of the English language while picking up amusing furphy during the nychthemeron it will take you to read this book!
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