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

Erin McKean

Erin McKean has wanted to be a lexicographer since she was eight years old. After reading an article in the newspaper about the publishing of the supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary, she realized that making dictionaries would be a cool job. (Luckily, she...

Authors and Articles Vol XVII

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XVII1Peterson, Max C.The Language of the Law XVII1Sypnowich, PeterNeedless to Say XVII1Pomfrit, D.A.Verbal Analogies V--Divination XVII2Pascal, PaulWhat's in a Roman Name? XVII2Bach, ZelligThe Scandalous Yiddish Guide of...

A Quick Fox Jumps over the Cwm Fjord-Bank Glyph Biz

Russell Slocum Reading, Pennsylvania A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog is a popular grammar school writing exercise incorporating all 26 letters of the alphabet in a 33-letter sentence. For those wishing to shorten the lesson, it may also be the seed of an...

Pairing Pairs

The clues are given in items lettered (a-z); the answers are given in numbered items which must be matched with each other to solve the clues. In some cases, a numbered word may be used more than once, but after all matchings have been completed, one numbered word...

Up or Down to You

John Musgrave Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk Robb Wilton, that acclaimed and dearly-loved British comedian of the thirties and forties, introduced one of his best wartime monologues with the classic first lines, "The day war broke out, my wife said to me, 'It's up to you!' I...

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...

All about All

In the movie Spartacus,1 the Roman general, Crassus, ensures the cooperation of the slave dealer, Batiatus, by making him the following promise: "I authorize you to be the agent for the sale of all survivors." When Crassus wins the final battle and orders that all...

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....

New issue on the way!

Vol. 32 No. 1 is making its way to the printer tomorrow; check out the table of contents for the new issue:Are Prepositions Necessary? by Rosemarie OstlerHanky-Panky, Hugger-Mugger, and Other Reduplicative Rhyming Compounds, by Amy Shuffelton and Jessy RandallThe...

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,...

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...

Intolerable Intolerance, Redux

EX CATHEDRA In Volume 1, Number 3 of Verbatim, Laurence Urdang, in an article entitled "An Intolerant View of Intolerance" wrote: "I consider myself–as, I am sure, everyone regards himself–a tolerant human being: I try to avoid prejudice in all things. Yet I must...

Assing Around

The word ass appears in American slang in multiple ways with multiple meanings. It has a rich and varied history and can signify anything from good to bad to more. A mildly transgressive word, ass is not quite as serious as shit or fuck–it is more of a humorously...

Epistolae 243

While reading William Dougherty’s article "Bromides" (XXIV/1) about the reluctance that physicians exhibit in speaking frankly about their patients’ life-threatening conditions, using euphemisms and circumlocutions, I remembered an experience I had that illustrates...

Classical Blather

What is so rare as a day in June? And what is so common asa rhyme for it? Speakers of English through the century seem tohave delighted in the sound of the double o, rotund and warm,gently terminating in the soft glide of the n "as if it wereloath to cease."1 Popular...

Authors and Articles Vol XXV

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XXV1Cates, David C.Where Did He Put the Pen of My Aunt? Navajo Revealed XXV1May, PeteBritish Football Chants XXV1Murphy, M. LynneExcerpts from the Baylor College Linguistics Scavenger Hunt XXV1Ronnick, Michele ValerieFrom...

Crossword #104 Answers

If you were missing the answers to Crossword #104 in XXXI/1, you're not the only one! Click here for them, which I know you're only using to check your own answers, right?

Pairing Pairs

I got a call this morning from someone who had picked up the VERBATIM book and needed one of the answers in Larry Urdang's Pairing Pairs explained. Which I did (possibly even to his satisfaction) ... but that motivated me to put up a link to Pairing Pairs here on the...

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!...

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