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Verbatim: From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists

Verbatim: From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists - Erin McKean This is actually the first essay collection I’ve read and as other people almost always say, I really enjoyed some of the essays while others just didn’t do it for me. The essays I liked the most generally fell into two categories. First, the essays where the authors complained about particular new developments in speech and writing were often the funniest. I loved the tongue-in-cheek ones where the authors sarcastically lauded the part of speech they were actually disparaging. And the ones where the authors used the part of speech they were complaining about to make their point were also very good.

The second type of essays was a category I found particularly interesting: those having to do with pop culture. The essay on “Buffy-isms” (new words introduced in the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) was by far my favorite of these. In the pop culture category, anyone thinking of handing this to a teen who loves language should be warned that the collection features articles on the origin of several curse words and on the language of the BDSM scene. Just so you know.

A final category of essay included most of those I didn’t like: the list essay. These essays were basically just long lists of words and definitions. If you truly love language for the sake of language and are the sort of person who collects obscure but enjoyable words, these essays will be perfect for you. Personally, I love language, but don’t obsess over individual words enough to enjoy these rather dry essays. Obviously, the beauty of an essay collection is that you can pick and choose, so if you simply love language, I would still recommend giving this book a chance.

This review first published on Doing Dewey.