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Political Language and Dittlers

Hiya, folks. It's another newsletter from A Way with Words!

Aside from flagellating ourselves for the homophonic error in last week's newsletter (error is always in a hurry), we also aired a radio show and posted a minicast.

The topics on the air over the weekend were political language, "moot point," and "fuggeddaboutit."


You can also listen to our latest online-only minicast, in which Fred, a traveling preacher, tells us about the words they use in Appalachia to refer to chicks and ducklings: "dittlers" or "dits."


This week we received a delightful pleasure in the mail. It's an advanced reading copy of David Crystal's "As They Say in Zanzibar," a collection of proverbs from around the world, also known as a "paremiography."

First published by Collins in 2006 in the UK, the book is scheduled to be released later this year in the US by Oxford University Press. David, as you may remember, has written a tremendous number of books about many aspects of language, some for an academic audience and some for a popular one, so you know the work is of top-notch quality.

Of course, we had to look up proverbs about words and language to share with you.

* 'Tis a good word that can better a good silence. (Netherlands)

* An ox is bound with ropes and a person with words. (Italy)

* The eyes have one language everywhere. (England)

* You are as many a person as languages you know. (Armenia)

* A nation without a language is a nation without a heart. (Wales)

* Who knows the language is at home everywhere. (Netherlands)

* A word flies away like a sparrow and returns to the house like a crow. (Germany)

And our favorite:

* Not even a schoolteacher notices bad grammar in a compliment. (USA)

Two articles caught our attention this week:

Henry Alford writes in the New York Times about the translations of the titles of classic works into other languages and how odd they sound when translated back into English:


Michael Erard writes a highly speculative piece in Wired about Chinglish (English spoken in China) and the future of English overall:


That's all for this week!

Best wishes,

Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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