Because VERBATIM is the only magazine about language and linguistics for the general reader, we find that stories about the magazine and its history are very well-received and have great appeal.
Here are some recent appearances of VERBATIM, Erin McKean, and the 2001 Harcourt VERBATIM book in the media. We are working on a press kit that we hope to have available soon. In the meantime, please email the editor (
or call 1-800-897-3006.

Stories about VERBATIM:

Appearances by/interviews with Erin McKean:

  • Erin McKean talking about “OK” for NPR’s Present at the Creation series.
  • at the Smithsonian Institution, with Jesse Sheidlower, Principal Editor of the North American OED.
  • at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, San Francisco, January 7, 2002.

  • a review of the ACWLPFB appearance by
  • transcript of CNN appearance, October 24, 2001.
  • on Milt Rosenberg’s Extension 720 WGN Radio Show, October 16, 2001.
  • a Real Audio file of Erin McKean on Morning Edition, September 27, 2001.
  • an essay about choosing a dictionary at
  • an article in the University of Chicago Alumni Magazine, about Chicago lexicographers, February 2001.
  • another “how to choose a dictionary” piece at This one seems to have been typed from the published sheet, with extra typos.
  • Erin McKean quoted in a business article about how to leave the perfect voicemail message.
  • Erin McKean quoted in an article about what to call the first decade of this century. Jury’s still out.

  • Erin McKean has also been on Mojo Radio AM640 in Toronto, on Reggie Bryant’s “In Pursuit of Truth” on WHAT FM in Philadelphia, and on the Jordan Rich radio show.

    Recent reviews of Verbatim: from the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists (Harcourt 2001):

  • From Publishers Weekly
  • For lovers of the intricacies of language comes an anthology of the best writing from
    Verbatim: The Language Quarterly, which has been investigating, debating, and
    dissecting English for almost 30 years. Erin McKean, the magazine’s editor
    since 1997, has collected lively essays on popular linguistics, dictionaries
    and the men and women who make them, English etymology and usage, and, of course,
    obscenity. From a consideration of “student bloopers” to a disquisition on the nature
    of slang, these thoughtful and often humorous offerings provide insight into the
    sophisticated systems of human communication in language that’s appropriately fresh
    and, thankfully, jargon-free.

    Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

  • From Booklist
  • The language quarterly Verbatim is no ordinary work–it’s not weighted down with impenetrable linguistic jargon, and it’s not a Sunday-supplement rant against bad grammar. McKean’s collection of articles from the quarterly likewise rises above the ordinary. The contributors, selected for their good writing, take us on an informative romp through some of the most intriguing aspects of our “messy, uninhibited, and sprawling” language. We’re regaled, for example, with fascinating tales told by etymologists; an account of “slayer slang” (teen TV favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer coins its own words); world history in the words of American students (the ancient Egyptians were “mummies” who traveled across the “dessert” by “Camelot”); and word games. And we want to know more: How have college dictionaries handled sexual intercourse (and its synonyms, including the f word)? Should French Canadians bemoan the corruption of their beloved language by such expressions as le snack bar when they in turn are gallicizing Quebec English? The answers, the wit, and the surprises are here for language mavens of nearly all stripes. Philip Herbst
    Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved

  • From Library Journal
  • For over 25 years, Verbatim: A Language Quarterly has been publishing short articles on the use and misuse of language. Here, McKean, editor of Verbatim and a dictionary editor for Oxford University Press, compiles 58 articles from the quarterly on subjects ranging from the meanings of the “F word” to variants in Bible translations. In between, various authors discuss other languages (Welsh dictionaries, Quebe?ois Gallicisms, Spanish variations in South America), word games (puns, spoonerisms), jokes (student bloopers, matching wordplay, Irish bulls), jargon (clown talk, S & M terminology, sports slang), and much, much more. McKean has used the work of well-known linguists and journalists (Laurence Urdang, Richard Lederer, and Gerald Eskenazi), but most of the pieces are by unknowns who submitted interesting language observations. All the articles are well written, but some will be more interesting than others. Recommended for public libraries. Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY

    Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

  • From theSan Jose Mercury News
  • Write On: Entertainment for Word Lovers

    A politician once went down in defeat after his opponent accused him of being a “shameless
    extrovert” who “before his marriage habitually practiced celibacy.” This example
    of what the writer who tells us about it calls “quasi malediction” — the use
    of innocent words to suggest nefarious deeds — is one of the many bright
    spots in “Verbatim” (Harcourt, 353 pp. $14 paperback), a collection culled from
    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly. The publication was founded in 1974 by
    lexicographer Laurence Urdang, as an outlet for word lovers to write about their
    favorite subject.

    Verbatim’s current editor, Erin McKean, has selected a range of entertaining and provocative
    essays on the things we say and write. This is linguistics at its most unbuttoned — sometimes
    literally so, as in the essays on the vocabularies associated with prostitution and sadomasochism
    and on the history and permutations of the most familiar of four-letter words.

    But most of the book is family fare. There are word games and essays on etymologies,
    arcane and oddball words, and forays into the subcultures of slang, such as the “slayer slang”
    invented by the writers of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” There’s even advice on how a “mundane”
    can pass as a fan among fen (the plural of “fan”) by speaking the proper lingo at a science
    fiction (or sf — not sci-fi) convention.

    This is not a book for knuckle-rappers who blench at neologisms or grammatical
    impurity. Check it out if the funny and fantastic side of language appeals to you and you’re
    not grossed out by the more scabrous aspects of it. Or visit for more
    information and archived issues of the quarterly. (published Sunday, Dec. 23, 2001)

  • Hippo Press review by Judith Pellowe, January 17, 2001
  • World Wide Words review by Michael Quinion
  • at the Gilpin Library, Gilpin County, Colorado. Reviewed by Larry Grieco, December 11, 2001.
  • Recent weblinks to VERBATIM

  • Random House Mavens Word of the Day links page.