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Red Herrings and White Elephants Hardcover – 8 Oct 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Metro Books, London; 1st Edition edition (8 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843581299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843581291
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Amusing and informative...[takes] you on a trip through the most fascinating and richest regions of the English language."--Knutsford Guardian (UK) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Albert Jack is a writer and researcher in pop culture whose favourite phrase is 'doolally'. He is 39 years old and has two children.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Albert Jack's books have been unfavourably compared with Michael Quinion's 'Port Out, Starboard Home'. I have books by both authors. Jack's are well thumbed "bog books" - perfect for passing the time in the lav. Quinion's lies largely unread in a cupboard.

Quinion's is almost certainly the more accurate and learned. But it's so dull. His approach tends to be to dismiss the wonderful folk tales around words and phrases in a very superior way before confessing he doesn't really have a better explanation.

Jack doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good tale and he presents a much more entertaining read.

The choice is simple - if you want a few funny tall tales to entertain a group of mates in the pub, buy Jack. If you want to be the lonely pedant in the corner muttering "well that's not strictly accurate" get a copy of Quinion.
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Format: Hardcover
I had a flick through this the other day and in those few seconds I spotted two entries which simply repeated folk etymologies have been discredited in other texts. This is the linguistic equivalent of publishing a book full of urban legends as true tales!
By the author's own admission this book was put together simply to cash in on the Christmas/casual purchase market, and it shows in its sloppy research. If you, or your gift-recipient, are genuinely interested in the history of words and phrases, I would suggest Michael Quinion's far superior 'Port Out, Starboard Home'. It may not be piled high by the tills in your local bookshop, but you'll be well rewarded for seeking it out.
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Format: Paperback
This is an easy book to dip in and out of. It explains the sources of many common expressions. Some of the explanations are based on folk stories or myths; some are based on fact. I note that other reviewers challenge the accuracy of the book. As a casual reader I find it fine and am intrigued to learn for instance that 'Bob's your Uncle' comes from the promotion in 1886 of someone whose uncle was the Prime Minister, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil. It is packed with such trivia.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought one of these books as a present for my brother,however I thumbed it so much before wrapping it that I didn't give it to him in the end. I only meant to have a quick peep but ended up taking it to read in bed over the next few weeks as I found it so very interesting.
As the title suggests it has the origins of all those well known sayings and you will find yourself saying out loud "oh wow, that's where that comes from". If you like things that are a little different you will really enjoy this book.
We keep it in the lounge and the amount of guests that pick it up and can't put it down is quite funny.
An absolute must have!
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up off the shelf in our local book shop and was immediately hooked. It is full of fascinating and entertaining information about some of our most common idioms. My favourite is the definition of 'to get the wrong end of the stick'. Yuck!
I have lent this book to many other people who have equally enjoyed it. Highly recommended. I totally disagree with the comments made by the previous reviewer.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great coffee-table book! You wouldn't really read it as such, but we find ourselves dipping in and out of it when we hear a saying that we want to find out more about. Who knows if it's completely accurate - can anyone really be sure? But it's good fun, provides a good source of entertainment and isn't too expensive. I like it.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd wanted this book for ages, as with a family that now live all over the country, I needed to translate their little sayings! My cockney partner also learnt a lot, and I'd recommend the book to anyone and everyone! It's a fascinating and interesting piece of work!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My husband was forever asking what different sayings meant or where they originated from. I chose this book at random but find it a good reference book even when you are doing a quiz on sayings/proverbs.
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