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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

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...

Words For Their Own Sake

John Konrad Kern Signal Hill, California Strip a word of its meaning and etymology and what do you have? You have a collection of alphabetic characters arranged in a unique order. Devoid of definition, however, these strings of letters have virtually no utility. But I...

Authors and Articles Vol XXII

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XXII1Mohapatra, Ashok K.Politicking with Words: On Ideology and Dictionary Meaning XXII1Emerson, Ralph H.Horse Words in a Motor Age XXII1Egan, GaryChunnel Vision XXII1Howard, Hilary M.No Boys Named Sue, But... XXII1Bowmer,...

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)...

Believe it or Not

A new issue! Several, in fact, but here's the Table of Contents for the first of the new issues:Qat in Yemen Gregory Johnson Three Limericks Max Gutmann Cuckoo for Crack Mark Peters My Genetic Code Louis Phillips User-Friendly Turkish Martin Gani Linguistic Larceny:...

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...

Favorite Words

Last year sometime (we?re very exact here at VERBATIM world headquarters) we asked you to send us your favorite words. Not necessarily the words whose meaning you most admired, but the words you found a joy to say, write and hear (and as some of you pointed out, to...

Certain Somebodies

"There was a certain man..." begins many a parable; yet the identity of the man is anything but certain. Monty Python's reluctant messiah in The Life of Brian, dropped by a joyriding space buggy onto a Jerusalem Speakers' Corner, tries to blend in: "There were these...

243 Crossword Answers

Across 1. GEMSTONE (anag.) 5. S(CR)EAM 10. UN(IT)E 11. ME(A + TEA)TER 12. METAL (mettle hom.) 13. DETOURING (anag.) 14. TRIG + GERMAN 17. BASS (base hom.) 19. VISA (hid.) 20. ATMOSPHERE (anag.) 23. MILES + TONE 25. TULLE (tool hom.) 27. OPERATIVE (rev.) 28. PRIZE (2...

What’s the French for “Fiddle de dee”?

What’s the French for "Fiddle de dee"? Margaret of Scotland, Wife of Louis XI, provides an answer for Lewis Carroll Here’s a question to explore, A query Alice merely parried When she was examined for The right to wear the crown she carried, And to be a pawn no more....

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...

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...

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...

Scottish Proverbs

Scottish Proverbs, Compiled by the Editors of Hippocrene Books, i-xi +111 pp., New York, Hippocrene Books, 1998. ISBN 0-7818-0648-8. $14.95 "A fox always smells his own hole first," my mother, a lady of undiluted Highland Scottish descent, liked to say. As she uttered...

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...

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