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Cut to the Good Chapters

Boom! It's another newsletter from "A Way with Words."

Get an earful of our conversation from this past week's show: pandiculation, doorknobbing, cotton-picking, enormity, on the QT, and more:


Martha's got a foodie treat for you in a minicast about the way some Italian-Americans call red sauce "gravy."


Let's take a look at some books we received recently:

Charles Hodgson of Podictionary.com has just released "History of Wine Words," a heady book with attractive typography and an efficient use of space and text. It covers wine names, terms used in describing wine ("diesel"?), and some of the language of wine-making. You can find Charles and his book here:


"Slang: The People's Poetry" is the first attempt in many decades to bring forth a definition of slang that doesn't amount to "I know it when I see it." Michael Adams, who also authored "Slayer Slang," about the language related to the show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," writes with an academic's knowledge in the mixed register of the everyday American. This book is for the sophisticated language aficionado who wants to move beyond dilettantism. Salon has a thorough and positive review:


"I'm Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears," by Jag Balla, is one of those slim, fun books that are easier to digest than they are to cook. This collection of worldwide idioms sorts its contents thematically and then translates them into literal English for the full anomie. It's like looking at other cultures in a kaleidoscope. And it has cartoons.


"I Love it When You Talk Retro," by Ralph Keyes, is a historical look at older slang. Its essays weave and turn to bring forth narratives that stitch together old stories in a format suited for browsing and dipping. Find Ralph here:


Finally, Anotoly Liberman's "Word Origins and How We Know Them" has been released in paperback. Highly recommended for those of you ready to dismount the amateur's stool and head for the scholar's lectern. It's meaty and chewy and serious at first glance, but at close reading you'll find Anatoly has dropped dry comments here and there that will crack you up. At least, they crack us up. Get a peek at the contents here:


Anatoly blogs about language here:


That's all for this week,

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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