Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's In a Word? by Webb Garrison

While studying Spanish in college, I became interested in the little idiomatic phrases (actually insults) that don’t really translate into English. Even after years of classes, they’re really all I can remember.  If I get lost sometime in a Spanish-speaking country, all I could do is just insult the people trying to help me. It would be a disaster.

That’s why when I heard about the book. What’s in a Word?, I was pretty excited.  Unfortunately it didn’t take long for my excitement to deflate.

What’s in a Word? is a collection of short entries explaining the origins of words or phrases you hear in everyday speech. If you share my fascination with the origin of those odd phrases, this book might be for you more than it was for me.

It isn’t so much that the book isn’t well written. I found the individual stories for each entry to be sly, witty, and occasionally rather clever.  It’s just that many of the “fascinating stories” are kind of mundane (In the Groove), obscure (Best Bib and Tucker) or out-of-date (Floppies). An updated version of the first chapter in a revised edition would go a long way to making the book a better read. For now, though, it’s short entries means it’s the kind of book you’ll want to keep in the bathroom for quick reads.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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