Lederer on Language: A Celebration of English, Good Grammar, and Wordplay

By Richard Lederer

In this wide-ranging choice of essays, Richard Lederer bargains readers extra of the irrepressible wordplay and linguistic excessive jinks his enthusiasts cannot get adequate of, besides observations on a lifestyles in letters. From an inner-city lecture room to a wordy weekend retreat, from centuries-old etymological legacies to the most recent in slang, dialects, and fadspeak, those essays shipping, tell, and entertain as basically Lederer can. The publication comprises greater than 30 chapters, equivalent to A announcement of Linguistic Independence, Our Uppity English Language, Etymological Snapshots, and Jest for the Pun of It.

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Threshold ninety six. via ninety seven. the next day ninety eight. really ninety nine. no matter if a hundred. writing I sooner than E, other than … ? on the William Cullen Bryant tuition, in West Philadelphia, my seventh-grade English instructor, Mrs. Huckins, had blue hair, wore wire-rimmed glasses and a paisley smock, and stored an avocado seed in a pitcher vase at the radiator. I want that everybody can have a Mrs. Huckins in language arts, for she was once the light-bearing mentor who wrought order from orthographic chaos, the lawgiver who taught me the fundamental spelling principles: the way to drop the y and upload ie in phrases comparable to infants and studied, the way to double the ultimate consonant in phrases resembling preventing and prevalence, and, after all, “i ahead of e, other than after c. ” unluckily, although, as I progressively attained the age of the sere and yellow leaf, I got here to achieve that the final formulation didn't particularly paintings. Granted that an occasional exception might end up a rule, yet this rule, commemorated as a lot within the breach as within the observance, has such a lot of exceptions that the exceptions bury the rule of thumb. firstly, the main recognized of all spelling jingles has a small modification tacked on: I sooner than e, other than after c, until sounded as a, As in neighbor and weigh. The final strains recommend aberrations reminiscent of beige, deign, 8, feign, feint, geisha, heinous, inheritor, inveigh, inveigle, lei, neigh, neighbor, reign, rein, reindeer, skein, sleigh, their, veil, vein, weigh, and weight. That makes twenty-three exceptions to the i-before-e dictum already. one other batch of mutants contains phrases during which either the e and the i are sounded: absenteeism, agreeing, albeit, atheist, being, contemporaneity, decreeing, dyeing, fleeing, releasing, making certain, pedigreeing, plebeian, reimburse, reincarnate, reinfect, strengthen, reinstate, reintegrate, reinterpret, reinvent, reinvest, reissue, reiterate, seeing, simultaneity, spontaneity, teeing, and treeing. This increases the subtotal of exceptions to fifty-two, one for every week of the 12 months. It doesn’t take a genius to gain that the i earlier than e rule doesn’t paintings for the names of many folks and locations: “Eugene O’Neill and Dwight D. Eisenhower drank 35-degree-Fahrenheit Budweiser and Rheingold in Anaheim and Leicester. ” shall we upload a protracted scroll of names to the cluster, equivalent to Stein and Weiss, yet we’ll be lenient and count number all ei own names as one exception and all ei position names as one other, bumping the subtotal of rule-flouters as much as fifty-four. “Cut the orthographic obfuscation, Lederer,” i will be able to listen you pondering. “Your final different types of i- before-e violations verge at the bogus. ” rather well. listed below are thirty-four breaches of the observance that don't contain names, individually said vowels, or an extended a valid: caffeine, codeine, counterfeit, eiderdown, both, feisty, overseas, forfeit, heifer, heigh ho, top, heist, herein, kaleidoscope, keister, relaxation, neither, nonpareil, obeisance, onomatopoeia, protein, rein, reveille, seismograph, grab, sheikh, sleight, sovereign, stein, surfeit, therein, weir, bizarre, and in which.

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