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Why is Q Always Followed by U?: Word-Perfect Answers to the Most-Asked Questions About Language [Hardcover]

Michael Quinion
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 July 2009
Long-time word-detective and bestselling author of Port Out, Starboard Home, Michael Quinion brings us the answers to nearly two hundred of the most intriguing questions he’s been asked about language over the years. Sent to him by enquiring readers from all around the globe, Michael’s answers about the meanings and histories behind the quirky phrases, slang and language that we all use are set to delight, amuse and enlighten even the most hardened word-obsessive. Did you know that ‘Blighty’ comes from an ancient Arabic word? Or that Liberace cried his way to the bank so many times people think he came up with the phrase? That ‘cloud nine’ started out as ‘cloud seven’ in the speakeasies of ’30s America? And that the first person to have their thunder stolen was a dismal playwright from Drury Lane? Michael Quinion’s Why is Q Always Followed By U? is full of surprising discoveries, entertaining quotations and memorable information. There are plenty of colourful stories out there, but Michael Quinion will help you discover the truth that lies behind the cock-and-bull stories and make sure you’re always linguistically on the ball.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Particular Books (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846141842
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846141843
  • Product Dimensions: 3.4 x 13.8 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,440 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


'He tracks down a phrase and pins it down with a wit as sharp as a tack' Metro 'Like being drawn into a great detective story, full of red herrings and bogus alibis' Mail on Sunday 'A marvellous and original book, erudition without tears' Spectator

About the Author

Michael Quinion, author of the bestselling Port Out, Starboard Home, has always been fascinated by language. His lexophilia really began in earnest in 1991, when, realising so many new words were missing from the Oxford English Dictionary, he started sending examples of them to the editors. He eventually became an official freelance reader and in the past sixteen years, he has sent in over 160,000 citations. Not satisfied with merely helping the OED, Michael Quinion set up his own language website in 1997, worldwidewords.org. The site has become a huge success as people all over the world ask Michael to tease out the truth behind the quirks of our language.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read 9 Oct 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've bought several of Michael Quinion's books and subscribe to his weekly newsletter. I wasn't surprised, therefore, to find I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It explains what (for example) "bulls and bears" on the stoke exchange, and "fair cop" in the movies means, rather than a guide to spelling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read 12 April 2010
A quick and fun read. I laughed aloud at a number of points - and actually learned a bit about some words and phrases along the way. Entertaining and recommended.

Downside: a number of queries about meanings or origins had a response that devolved to the equivalent of, "Don't know."

Re: Amazon.uk. Ordering, shipping and receipt were easy and quick. It also seems Amazon maintains a global sign-on that helps.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For lovers of words 9 Oct 2009
By Iain S. Palin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Anyone interested in our language and where our words and usage come from should read Michael Quinion. He is entertaining and impressively thorough, and not only does he write books he has a fascinating website "World Wide Words" and even a free e-newsletter.
This book is a collection of some of the queries that have been sent in to him for that newsletter. For most of us it isn't something to sit and read through start-to-finish, rather something to dip into for a few minutes at a time - but those minutes will be well spent. You'll learn a lot, and enjoy yourself at the same time.
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