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

New Work from David Galef

Long-time readers of VERBATIM will recognize the name David Galef; his pieces in our magazine consistently garner compliments (and the editor is always pleased to find a new one coming across her email transom). But VERBATIM, as you all know, only publishes...

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...

Authors and Articles Vol XVIII

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XVIII1Devereux, RobertPunch on the Bungalow Veranda XVIII1Yoo, DalThe World of Abbreviations and Acronyms XVIII1Heinz, John F.fix XVIII2Sharp, DonSpeaking of the Unmentionables XVIII2Swift, BobWrenches in the Gorse and...

Authors and Articles Vol XXVI

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XXVI1Urdang, LaurenceToday's Lesson XXVI1Humez, NickClassical Blather (Silly Songs) XXVI1Considine, JohnTwelve Notes on the Canadian Oxford Dictionary XXVI1Baldwin, BarryAs the Word Turns (Where Do They Come From?)...

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...

Authors and Articles Vol XX

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XX1Ayto, JohnThe Titled Proletariat XX1Bailey, BelRoundabout East Anglia XX1Tius, Mary M.Vestiges XX1Ingleson, SharonFuture Difficulties XX1Herman, Louis JayWhat's in an Article? XX1Balado-Lopez, DanielDeveloping...

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...

Noun Overuse Phenomenon Article

Bruce D. Price Word-Wise New York, New York Have you noticed a new "clunk-clunk" sound in the English language? Phrases such as "patient starter package" for sample? "Drug dosage forms" for pills? "Health cause" for sickness? "Increased labor market participation...

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...

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...

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...

I, quartz pyx, who fling mud beds.

[photo by mharrsch, of an ivory (not a quartz) pyx]Interested in holo-alphabetic sentences? Think you would be, but aren't sure what they are? Then you might want to check out Russell Slocum's article from Vol. II/4, newly digital here....

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...

Slayer Slang (Part 1)

by Michael Adams Albright College Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS), a recent teen television hit, coins slang terms and phrases in nearly every episode, many of them formed in the usual ways, some of them at the crest of new formative tendencies, and some of them...

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...

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