The Word Snoop

The Word Snoop

Ursula Dubosarsky

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0803734069

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Meet the Word Snoop. She?s dashing and daring and witty as can be?and no one knows more about the evolution of the English language than she does. Luckily, she?s spilling her secrets in this gem of a book. From the first alphabet in 4000 BC, to anagrams, palindromes, and modern-day text messages, readers will learn all about the fascinating twists and turns our fair language has taken to become what it is today.

With playful black-and-white illustrations, riddles to solve, and codes to break, The Word Snoop is definitive proof that words can spark the imagination and are anything but dull. This is a book for every aspiring writer, and every true reader.

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Erewhon—can you figure out where it is? And what about the land of Tribnia that the Irish writer Jonathan Swift invented in his book Gulliver’s Travels? And in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, there’s a very unpleasant character called Count Olaf, and another one named Al Funcoot, and another one called Dr. Flacutono, and another, Dr. O. Lucafont, and an even more unsavory medical couple, Dr. Tocuna and Nurse Flo . . . Until recently, to work out an anagram you had to write all

kinds of sentences are called pangrams, which comes from two ancient Greek words—pan, meaning “all,” and gramma,which you might remember means “letter.” People have been writing pangrams for centuries, and not only with the English alphabet. There are pangrams in the Hebrew Bible, as well as in ancient Greek literature, such as Homer’s Odyssey. And there’s a pangram in Japanese that’s more than a thousand years old—a poem called the Iroha. Pangrams became most common after typewriters were

had become so fashionable it seemed almost every new organization had one—UNESCO, NATO, UNICEF, and many others. It was the same in the field of science and technology. New discoveries were being made all the time, and some words were so long and strange that it made sense to use acronyms. Let’s face it, DNA is much easier to say and remember than Deoxyribonucleic Acid. Not everybody liked all these acronyms, though. The English writer George Orwell certainly didn’t. In his novel set in the

Clichés are phrases that you have heard and read so many times, they don’t really carry much meaning or excitement anymore. The word clichégoes back to France in the eighteenth century, when printing was done by making metal plates with the letters placed on them. A particular kind of fixed metal plate, called a stereotype, was invented as a quick, cheap way to print something over and over again, instead of making up a new plate each time. Cliché (meaning “clicked”) was a word for the sound the

uses when he publishes a book. This is also known as a pseudonym, Greek for “false name,” or a nom de plume,which is French for “name of pen.” In Theodor Geisel’s case, Seuss was his middle name. He began using it when he was a young man, drawing and writing for a university magazine. Later, he added the “Dr.” for fun, in honor of the doctoral degree he never managed to get at the university. So why didn’t he just use his own name in the first place? Well, sometimes writers want to use a

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