How to Sound Clever: Master the 600 English Words You Pretend to Understand...When You Don't Hardcover – 15 Sep 2010
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'This admirable book is a wholly welcome antidote to the semi-demi-literacy of the 21st century. Go out and buy it!' --Colin Dexter
About the Author
Hubert van den Bergh has worked for a City investment fund for the past decade. A language enthusiast, he has a degree in Modern Languages from Oxford University.
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Top Customer Reviews
So I was delighted to discover this book which positively brims with all these words that were foxing me.
For example, I've read some of George Orwell's novels, but when someone described a situation as `Orwellian', I never knew exactly what this meant. It turns out the word doesn't refer to `Animal Farm' (as I thought it did) but exclusively to Orwell's novel `1984', and so `Orwellian' means `contrary to the well-being of a free society'. This is a classic case of thinking you know a word and so never looking up its exact meaning.
I did already know about 5% of the words in the book but language is such a subjective thing that I guess one book is never going to provide you with every single word you don't know.
And when I have friends over, this book inevitably gets spotted by someone and out it comes - it's a great icebreaker to pass around the table after a meal and get people to select a word and then see who knows the real meaning.
It will enable you to use our wonderful words with confidence and pride, elevate your W11 dinner party chat and generate impressed glances of admiration from across the table. 'How to' will also fascinate those that care about the origin of words and the evolution of their meaning.
Language is a constant work in progress - Mr Van den bergh is a brilliant and unvarnished guide for this eternal journey.
It's always a bad sign when there are huge borders limiting the amount of actual text on each page. It makes me suspect that the book has had to be padded out. This suspicion was confirmed by some of the content.
Now I'm certainly not Stephen Fry but the revelation that "Dickensian" means "bringing to mind the novels of Charles Dickens" was not a huge shock. I knew that "opaque" means "hard to make out" (and I'm not sure that's a particularly good definition anyway). Is there anyone who doesn't have a reasonable idea what "tinnitus" is or what "tawdry" means?
There was some interest in reading a proper "definition" of a word that you have heard (in reasonably common use) and seeing whether the meaning you had worked out was correct. Having said that, I could have used a dictionary to do that.
Overall disappointing. Seems more like an attempt to rush out something that people will buy as an Xmas stocking filler rather than a genuine attempt to look (in any sort of depth) at interesting words in current use.
However, what I particularly liked were some of the lesser known meanings of these words - woe betide any smart-alec who dares to correct you. They would instantly become de trop after your kind explanation. Essentially, it's a put-down waiting to happen.
In addition and probably more importantly - the author, Hubert van den Bergh, gives excellent and interesting examples as to the correct use of each and every word in this personal lexicon.
In my view, this book is protection against those with too much hauteur.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great Book, arrived quickly and in a perfect condition. My son loves it.Published 26 days ago by Olga
When I have finished reading it I hope to have have stopped hebetating and the book will have done what it says.Published 6 months ago by Murray C Clark
Interesting but many words I know and some are just outlandish. You can finish the book very quicklyPublished 14 months ago by James Staddon
A good selection of words. It's just a coffee table reference book really. Fun to read. I hope to teach my daughter some words from it over the years to broaden her vocabulary.Published 19 months ago by clara99