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Monday, January 30, 2012

Book for Writers, Linguists, Anthropolgists and Lovers of Language

Subtitle: Our love affair with euphemisms
By Ralph Keyes
Little Brown and Co.
ISBN: 9780316056564
Nonfiction/ (Writing/Language)
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Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson originally for

If you don’t love language, it’s a good bet you aren’t a writer. But if you’re a writer, reading more about language (linguistics (?)) may not be high on your list of priorities. It’s so integral to the way you think, you believe you don’t need it.

I believe that Euphemania by Ralph Keyes will change your mind. Written with humor (because euphemisms are just naturally funny?) this book will certainly entertain. If you’ve ever wondered about the intricacies of our euphemisms—the origins as an example—this is the book for you. But who would have guessed that it also might be the perfect book to hone the skills of writers of dialogue and humor?

Academic writers? Use it as a quick-study on how to write a book that will sell to a wide market. The secret? Voice. Humor. Colloquialisms. Yep, and euphemisms. A book does not have to have the lack of moisture content (dry!) of a text book to be a textbook. I know about academic expectations. My daughter is a Ph.D. candidate. She explains it to me all the time. Having said that, if you’d like to actually sell something rather than giving everything away to unappreciative academic journals, try rewriting your brilliant theory for the general public!

Anthropologists and linguists will love this book, too. But mostly, it’s just fun learning why we use asterisks for words like sh*t and the euphemisms like the f-word. It’s also tons of fun to identify phrases we’ve stopped thinking of as euphemisms (love handles, anyone?), just because they are so part of our everyday language.

If I were rating this book for an Amazon review, it would give it a true (not a fake) five-star rating. For usefulness. For fun. For the love of language.

The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using this little green retweet widget :

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