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Word spy : the word lover's guide to modern culture
McFedries, Paul
Adult Nonfiction PE1583 .M34 2004

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From Library Journal:

Word manuals come in all shapes and sizes. Although these three cover similar ground, they each target different audiences. Guran, a freelance writer and editor, provides some basic guidance on language usage, making clear from the outset her position as a word "user" rather than an expert. This explains the book's accessibility-readers will learn a good deal about terms that often get mistaken for other terms or are simply used incorrectly. However, one still wonders whether some entries may be too elementary given the book's target audience (e.g., while it may be useful for most budding writers to understand the difference between hanged and hung, how many really need the difference between great and grate explained?). Still, the explanations are consistently succinct and are supplemented by useful quotations that illustrate correct usage and provide entertainment and light relief. Although its brevity might limit its usefulness as a reference tool, this how-to is solidly written and enhanced by a detailed index. Kaminsky and Penney here follow up their successful and entertaining Magic Words, written to help readers "talk [their] way through life's challenges." Both prominent figures in publishing (Kaminsky is a former publisher and Penney a former editor in chief of Self magazine), the authors draw on feedback from readers of their first book to provide a similar guide that homes in on business vocabulary. Each phrase is chosen for its specific relevance to the workplace-e.g., "don't weigh the facts with your thumb on the scale" and "martyrs are revered (but rarely rewarded)"-and explained through usage examples and etymology. Like Guran's book, this supplies short, practical tips for all levels of the workforce rather than a comprehensive philosophy of the featured terms. Word Spy will appeal to both word lovers and those interested in modern cultural trends and evolutions. McFedries, the creator of the enormously popular Logophilia Limited web site and author of many titles in the "Complete Idiot's Guide" series, has collected many neologisms and arranged them according to cultural trends such as fast food, political correctness, the dot-com phenomenon, and evolutions in areas like marriage and relationships, the workplace, and technology. The book's short and snappy chapters make it perfect for dipping into, and McFedries's research into the various uses of terms like hactivism, bozon, and bling-bling makes it informative as well as entertaining. Despite the emphasis on North American usage, the volume is impressively wide-ranging, featuring neologisms drawn from English newspapers and magazines around the world as well as from fiction, nonfiction, and popular music.-Rebecca Bollen, North Bergen, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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