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A verbivore, according to this well-known author of fanciful and brainy books on language (Crazy English, Play of Words, etc.), makes a daily diet of words, taking delight in analyzing, tracing, defining, collecting, and playing with language. For Lederer, the fun of language and new experiences with it are everywhere: a Wonderful World of Words Weekend at Mohonk Mountain House; his son's poker tournament in Las Vegas; the ""oys and joys"" of Yiddish; the mysteries of ""Britspeak""; the ""slanguage"" of prep-school; or in the argot of ""Ghettoberg"" (Lederer taught for a year in a black inner-city school). The author shows the derivations of some words and invents others, as well as slogans, headlines, and puns, and he serves as a consultant in the wording of laws and regulations. His book on puns, Get thee to a Punnery, won the ""Punster of the Year Award"" from the International Save the Pun Association, dedicated to preserving this endangered species of expression. Lederer loves book tours, radio shows, dialects, and dictionaries. A selection of queries here (What is one flake called in a box of Wheaties?) addressed to him as the Grammar Grappler for Writer's Digest elicits his most resourceful and good-natured observations. With clever examples, quizzes, brainteasers, grammatical problems (all answers included), Lederer's latest makes reading an interactive experience. It concludes with 50 memorable rules on ""writing good,"" each breaking the rule it describes: ""Who needs rhetorical questions?"" or ""Don't verb nouns."" For anyone who savors language, enjoys puzzles and word games, is frustrated with learning vocabulary and grammar -- or is in danger of forgetting the joy or just the simple fun of language.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster