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Port Out, Starboard Home: And Other Language Myths Hardcover – 1 Jul 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140515348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140515343
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 3 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 493,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Quinion (1942-) has been a BBC studio manager and radio producer, an audio-visual and video producer, museum curator, tourism consultant, computer software writer, web developer, lexicographer and etymologist, and sometimes feels a little tired. Quite by accident he became involved in the work of the Oxford English Dictionary and has down the years provided some 170,000 examples of new or unusual words to help revise the work. From the museum - the Cider Museum in Hereford - came his two little books on English cider making; the rest of his books derive from his etymological research. These days, he concentrates on writing a weekly newsletter, World Wide Words, and its accompanying website (http://www.worldwidewords.org); he calculates he has written the equivalent of at least two more books for it over the past 15 years. He lives in South Gloucestershire and maintains the websites of the Thornbury Volunteer Centre and of the local branch of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme.

Product Description

Review

Easily accessible -- Mail on Sunday, 1st August 2004

Every page of this book is a sheer delight. -- Catholic Herald, 16th July, 2004

This is a marvellous and original book, erudition without tears. -- The Spectator, 31 July 3005

About the Author

Michael Quinion has contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of New Words (2nd edition), edited the weekly Daily Telegraph new words column, and is author of a dictionary of affixes, Ologies and Isms (OUP). Since 1996 he has produced the weekly e-newsletter World Wide Words, which has an associated website. He lives in Bristol.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By C. Houghton on 4 Nov 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For anyone interested in the history and origins of words and common expressions, this is the book for you. Michael Quinion casts an educated and amusing eye on the popular myths and folk etymologies that surround many words and expressions in the English language. I enjoyed it very much and now feel vastly superior on an intellectual level to all my friends and am never short of a fact or two to retell when ever need arises, and occasionally when it doesn't.
Best for English/History enthusiastes who have ever wondered 'Where did that saying come from?'
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. D. J. Smith VINE VOICE on 3 Mar 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a well written and entertaining look at the origins of words and phrases in the English language. There are often myths that have arisen around the origin of terms that can be dismissed by looking for occurrences in print to see if the dates tie up. The only frustrating part is that often we don't know the true origin of a particular word or phrase! It's good that Quinion explains some expressions that don't make a lot of sense today, simply because of changes in language. Recommended if you are interested in the evolution of language, or are just curious about the origins of some well known expressions.
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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By The Fisher Price King on 16 July 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Quinion is in the business of dispelling language myths, as well as explaining etymologies and the meaning of common phrases and slang. He's being doing this for years on his excellent web site World Wide Words. This book is a distillation of some of the material that has appeared on his web site, in a simple A to Z format. It's thoughtful and well written, and explains lots of those irritating or puzzling terms and expressions ("cheap at half the price", "mind your Ps and Qs"). My one complaint is that it's printed on rather low quality paper. Otherwise very good, and I recommend the web site too, which has a whole lot more material on it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. L. Haggett VINE VOICE on 19 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback
Very readable, enjoyable look at the origins of those words and phrases we use day in day out.

Unlike so many books of this ilk, this wears its learning very lightly and is not just an excuse for an author to parade his learning; indeed, Michael Quinion is not frightened to admit it if he does not know the answer.

I read it from cover to cover and enjoyed it thoroughly, but I have no doubt that I will be dipping into it from time to time in the future as well. Recommended for wordsmiths and for those with a keen curiosity about the world about us alike.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Greg Beard on 22 Dec 2005
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be quite interesting in some places, but too many times the author went through a protracted argument about why certain explanations of words are wrong. To add insult to injury, he would then admit he didn't really know where the meaning actual came from. I will keep it as a reference (like many other reviewers here) but wouldn't recommend it for an entertaining read
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By P.G. on 16 Mar 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
In-depth histories of the words and phrases we use every day without thinking about them. These are level, balanced accounts, and yet very readable. I found the whole book fascinating.
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By L.A.M.Cox on 18 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Puts a lot of myths to bed, v useful.
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