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Verbatim – Volume 30

Reviewed by Ever wondered where the word “cocktail” came from, or been annoyed by some corporate entity referring to itself as a “family?” Have you pondered what dictionary publishers ought to do in regards to including words that are registered trademarks of companies with overzealous lawyers?

Reviewed by Ever wondered where the word “cocktail” came from, or been annoyed by some corporate entity referring to itself as a “family?” Have you pondered what dictionary publishers ought to do in regards to including words that are registered trademarks of companies with overzealous lawyers? If so, take a look at this issue of Verbatim, because it’s tailor-made for lovers of all topics linguistic. The three items mentioned above are treated, respectively, in essays by Rosemarie Ostler (“Getting Bowzered in Early America”); Matt Coward (“Horribile Dictu”); and Michael Adams (“Lexical Property Rights: Trademarks in American Dictionaries”). On the lighter (but no less seriously treated) side, Muffy Siegel’s “Dude! Katie! Your Dress is So Cute: Why Dude Became an Exclamation” is an exploration of the popular “dude” and the possible reasons for its current usage among the young as an exclamation, reference to a male person, and “gender-neutral term of address.” (Siegel’s research into the “social power” which “dude” has and a word like “guy” doesn’t is interesting, but one wonders why the pleasing vowel sound of “dude” is never brought up, especially when contrasted with the harsh “guy.”) Larry Tritten’s story, “The Caribbean Dichotomy,” concerns an eminent “pronunciologist” who believes “there are only two kind of people in the world: those who pronounce the word Caribbean [special font needed] and those who pronounce it [special font needed.]” Can’t say I really got the [special font needed], but I think the piece was meant to be funny. A few more informative articles, a couple of witty poems, and a sweet little head-scratcher called “Anglo-American Crossword No. 103” round out the issue.
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