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Alphabetter Juice: or, The Joy of Text

May 20, 2011

Roy Blount Jr.—you’ve heard him on "Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!" but did you know he is a usage consultant to the American Heritage Dictionary? Blount’s love affair with words is clear from his previous book’s subtitle: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; with Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory. In his new, follow-up to that “wordy” book, Blount explains that letters and sounds are not arbitrary but rather that there’s a purpose to the juiciness of some words connecting to our sight and sound. Blount, who is jealous of Hunter Thompson for his word booger, Jimmy Breslin for boozehound, and William Safire for hoohah, coins his own—“sonicky”—to describe the satisfying or curious sounds of words. Blount creates a chapter for each letter of the alphabet and explores the origin, meaning, and pronunciation of words as old as prick (1598) and as new as mediablur, with juicy anecdotes and crazy stories told along the way.

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