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The Vocabula Review

 

Joseph Epstein

Joseph Epstein

"The language," exclaimed Flaubert, attempting to tell his mistress Louise Colet how very deeply he felt about her, "is inept." Mot juste man though he was, Flaubert, I suspect, meant "insufficient." And language often is insufficient. There ought, for example, to be a word that falls between "talent" and "genius"; and another word between "envy" and "admiration." The other day it occurred to me that yet another word is needed, to describe the relationship that falls between "acquaintance" and "friend."


Anu Garg

Anu Garg

It is human nature to find patterns in things where there might be none, whether it is in the shape of clouds or in the arrangement of sand, in a chain of events, or in the digits of pi. Or in a list of words. What unites these words here in a common thread? You find out! Don your word-sleuth hat and discover the theme that weaves these words. Each word is another piece of the puzzle. Answer at the end of the chapter.


Richard Lederer

Richard Lederer

This past October 16, Allen Walker Read, a playful prospector of the American tongue, died at his home in Manhattan. He was 96.

A long-time professor at Columbia University, Read was the word detective who traced the word Dixie to an 1850 minstrel show, the word Podunk to an Indian name meaning "a swamp" or "a sinking" and the almighty dollar to the American author Washington Irving.


John Kilgore

John Kilgore

First, a disclaimer. I think the world of high school teachers. They have one of the world's hardest, most essential jobs, and for the most part they perform it with dedication and grace. My hat is off to high school teachers. I need to say so at the outset, since in what follows I will be sharply critical of them.


Bob Wakulich

Bob Wakulich

I think it all started with the sports broadcasters, but not the ones I remember from my tender youth. Long before I became a lapsed jock, I would listen in rapture to Dizzy Dean and Peewee Reese rambling on about the Boys of Summer, or to Howard Cosell drenching the visuals of pigskin warriors with purple prose, or to Danny Gallivan screaming about hockey goaltenders making ENORMOUS saves. Sure, they were stretching their artistic licenses to the point of atomic disintegration, but I never noticed them taking the collective nouns in vain. Chicago is playing well. New York is running out of steam.



The February issue of The Vocabula Review is due online February 16.


 

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