Verbatim is no longer publishing. However, this is a fan site dedicated to the legacy of Verbatim. Please enjoy the archives we were able to find and share with you all!

What’s Verbatim? Verbatim is a magazine devoted to what is amusing, interesting, and engaging about the English language and languages in general. We strive to bring fascinating topics out of the dusty obscurity of dry linguistic scholarship and polish them up for the general reader with an intelligent interest in language. We gently poke fun at the messes people can get into with English and the misunderstandings that arise from our common language. All this, plus a generous helping of book reviews, should provide an hour or two’s diversion for the person interested in language.

VERBATIM Online Issues

VERBATIM Articles, Book Reviews, News

Letters

Dear Sir: Just a couple of SIC!s from Vol. 24 No. 1. 1. In the article "The Last Pibroch", the author writes of clan chiefs memorizing a few words of Gaelic "to impress visiting dignatories." Is this the Gaelic for "dignitaries"? 2. Concerning Odet's use of the word...

SIC! SIC! SIC!

SIC! SIC! SIC! is a regular feature of every issue, in which we rely on readers to send us funny errors made in (thank goodness) other publications. (And those on signs, in form letters, etc., etc. We're capable of finding the funny errors in our own publication...

Authors and Articles Volume XIII

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XIII1Kahn, John EllisonPolysemania, Semantic Taint, and Related Conditions XIII1Lazerson, Barbara HuntPatterned Words and Phrases XIII1Queenan, JoeWhen Everything Was Everything XIII1Hirschberg, StephenPlaying Words with...

Fun Things to Say in Spanish, French & English

Joseph K. Slap Los Angeles, California There are many people from Spanish-speaking nations here in southern California. It’s fun, for me and for them, to converse in Spanish. Those people get a big grin from my non-rhyming poem, in Spanish. I tell the people, "Quando...

Dictionaries of Hard Words Come Easy

Ramona R. Michaelis Supervising Editor Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary One of the major problems that faces the lexicographer at the start of a new dictionary is, quite simply, the selection of entries for definition. Of the total English word stock of...

Antedate Dictionary Citations

David Shulman New York City this article originally appeared in VERBATIM vol 2. no. 2, in February 1976 In VERBATIM II, 1, appeared an interesting article on dictionary citations in general. This article, however, is intended to complement it by describing only a...

Preposition Pollution

Foreigners trying to learn English often have more trouble with our prepositions than with any other feature. But I see and hear so many awkward uses of prepositions lately that I think we all have more trouble with them than with any other feature--and more trouble...

English English

This originally appeared in Vol. VII, No. 1 I am chuffed as bollocks about a piece I wrote earlier this year in what Americans quaintly describe as The London Times. Depending upon your understanding of the idiom, this means that I am either pleased or displeased,...

Favorite Word

Recently, the London Festival of Literature ran a contest to determine the UK's favorite words. Their winners were: 1. Serendipity 2. Quidditch 3. Love 4. Peace/Why (tie) 5. Onomatopoeia 6. Hope 7. Faith 8. Football/Muggle/Hello/Family (tie) 9. Compassion/Home (tie)...

On Blue Moons, and Others

Nature has favored us with a single large satellite with two felicitous peculiarities: It always turns the same face towards us, and it appears exactly the same size in the sky as our sun. The latter property makes a total solar eclipse, if we are fortunate enough to...

Darn, Durn, Down, Doon, Damn

Dwight Bolinger Professor of Linguistics Emeritus Harvard University Minced oaths are etymological landmines, and if I were a better guesstymologist I probably would not tread on this one; but if it is a coincidence it is too good to be true, so here goes....

The Twelve Days of Christmas

We're not quite at the "partridge in a pear tree" stage of the month yet, but I thought you might all enjoy this review, by Larry Urdang, of Thomas L. Bernard's The Twelve Days of Christmas: The Mystery and The Meaning, from Vol. XXI/3: Professor Bernard, who teaches...

The Art and Technique of Citation Reading

Laurence Urdang Editor, VERBATIM The uninitiated often wonder where lexicographers find the words they list and describe in the dictionaries they compile, edit, and revise. Nonprofessional and unprofessional dictionary compilers may often get them from secondary...

BONA PALARE: the Language of Round the Horne

Some historians of comedy argue that Round The Horne, a BBC sketch show broadcast between 1965 and 1968, prolonged the life of radio as a major medium of entertainment in the UK, at a time when TV was rapidly establishing its regrettable hegemony. Certainly, RTH was...

A Bawdy Language

A Bawdy Language: How A Second-Rate Language Slept Its Way to the Top, by Howard Richler, Stoddart, 1999. ISBN: 0-7737-3186-5. 208 pp. $15.95/£9.86 As you might guess from the title, A Bawdy Language is a rather irreverent and almost relentlessly topical romp through...

Word Words

Jon O. Newman United States Circuit Judge We need some new words to describe words. English already has several well known -onym words (from the Greek onyma meaning 'name'), such as synonym (same meaning), antonym (opposite meaning), and homonym (same sound). Less...

Darn!

I was thinking of Dwight Bolinger the other day (as you do) and remembered that he had written a very nice short article about "Darn!" for VERBATIM back in the day. Enjoy!...

Authors and Articles Vol XXIII

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XXIII1Schindler, Marc A.(Dia)critic's Corner XXIII1Richler, HowardGalling Gallicisms of Quebec English XXIII1Temianka, DanielThe King of Wordsmiths XXIII1Davidson, J. A.The Problem of Names XXIII1Crilly, JosephineTurning To...

Authors and Articles Vol XXI

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XXI1Bennett, MartinThe Lamps of Speech XXI1Tius, Mary M.Stress XXI1Bailey, BelSlang from Greyfriars XXI1Blackford, PaulSome English Loanwords in Thai XXI1Schindler, Marc A."Schindler's List" of Ashkenaz's Names XXI1Ramson,...

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