LANGUAGE MAVEN STRIKES AGAIN by William Satire

LANGUAGE MAVEN STRIKES AGAIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Satire's sixth collection (You Could Look It Up, 1988, etc.) of his syndicated weekly New York Times column, ""On Language,"" including, like its predecessors, readers' replies to his humorous, precise discussions of linguistic trends. Arranged alphabetically, the several dozen entries here focus mostly on wayward words and errant grammar. Satire's perennially favorite targets pop up: the coining of makeshift words like ""caplet"" (a ""gulp"" of desperation word. . .a caplet is a tablet shaped like a capsule""); the misuse of old ones (on ""vanilla"": a ""word coming to mean in slang the opposite of its standard meaning. Farewell, tasty vanilla""); weird names, skewed semantics, confusing usages (do 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. signify noon and midnight?, or the opposite? Satire wonders, in response to which a reader sends this extraordinary reply: ""There is indeed a coherent and compelling reason to define noon as 12 p.m. and midnight as 12 a.m. It has to do with the boundary conditions in the mathematics of continuous curves. . .""). Bracing tonic for language lovers, then, though best consumed, as originally published, one shot at a time.

Pub Date: July 16th, 1990
Publisher: Doubleday