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

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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: 168,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Mass Market 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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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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Format: Mass Market 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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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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
People often wonder what is - or rather, what may be - the origin of certain words and phrases; and some of the answers to these questions are as various and as ingenious as they are wrong. More often than not, Quinion is not certain of the correct answer himself, and then engages in his own speculations while making it clear that there is no hard evidence for them. (One of the few phrases of whose strange origin he is certain is to “curry favour”.) But what he does do regularly is to dismiss false attributions - what he calls “folk etymology” - for one reason or another, quite often because the date of the phrase’s first appearance does not tally with the explanation. He writes, for instance, that there is “absolutely no evidence” for the popular idea that the origin of the word “posh” was that wealthy passengers travelling by boat to India booked their cabins on the cooler and therefore more expensive Port side for the Outward journey and the Starboard side on the journey Home. Disproving attributions, even if they figure in some dictionaries, seems to be the main purpose of the book, so that if you read it straight through, the impression it leaves of the author is one of a scholarly but a distinctively fault-finding character. But whether they are right or wrong, attributions of origin are fun to read, we learn some interesting bits of history, and the book will entertain many readers.
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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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