For word nerds and grammar geeks, a witty guide to the most commonly mispronounced words, along with their correct pronunciations and pithy forays into their fascinating etymologies and histories of use and misuse.
With wit and good humor, this handy little book not only saves us from sticky linguistic situations but also provides fascinating cocktail-party-ready anecdotes. Entries reveal how to pronounce boatswain like an old salt on the deck of a ship, trompe l’oeil like a bona fide art expert, and haricot vert like a foodie, while arming us with the knowledge of why certain words are correctly pronounced the “slangy” way (they came about before dictionaries), what stalks of grain have to do with pronunciation, and more. With bonus sidebars like “How to Sound like a Seasoned Traveler” and “How to Sound Cultured,” readers will be able to speak about foreign foods and places, fashion, philosophy, and literature with authority.
I thought I knew how to speak reasonably well. Then I read this book, and, how utterly embarrassing! Did my English professors even know these things?
This book is a fun, informative collection of words many – if not most – people mispronounce. The listing is alphabetical. Each entry places the phonetic spelling directly below the word at the top of the page, so we immediately know how badly we’ve mangled the pronunciation. Or, on occasion, we can whoop with pride for getting one right.
Along with each word, the authors give us a few paragraphs of memorable history regarding the word, its use, and why and/or how the mispronunciation began. These entries are light and humorous, teaching while entertaining.
I have the hardcover, which is a little larger than a mass paperback, light, and convenient. This makes a great gift, looks good on a bookshelf, and might just give you the urge to walk around correcting people.
*The publisher provided me with a copy, via Blogging For Books, in exchange for my honest review.*
Thanks for reading. 🙂