You've Got Ketchup on Your Muumuu: An A--to--Z Guide to English Words from Around the World

Ehrlich, Eugene

Published by Henry Holt and Co., 2000
ISBN 10: 0805061630 / ISBN 13: 9780805061635
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Synopsis: From one of America's top wordsmiths, a lively survey of words from abroad that make English a truly international language.

With dry wit and remarkable erudition, Eugene Ehrlich takes us on an eye-opening tour of our ever-changing language, showing us how English has, throughout its history, seamlessly sewn words from other languages into its original fabric. The language we call our own has in fact been culled from the languages of ancient invaders, such as the Romans, the Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes, and the French.

Ehrlich's comprehensive research and vast lingual experience bring to light the origins of some of our most popular and well-used words. For example, graffiti is shown to come from the Italian word meaning "scratches." The word for one of our favorite French pastries, éclair, means "lightning flash." And ketchup comes from the Chinese Ke-Jap, which means "fish sauce."

Ehrlich illuminates the origins, purposes, and meanings of once-foreign words that have become part of the rich texture of our language.

Review: Don't be a troglodyte. The zeitgeist these days is decidedly international, nicht wahr? If the thought of a polyglot salmagundi fills you with angst, well, no cojones, no glory. For Ketchup on Your Muumuu, Eugene Ehrlich, the high-muck-a-muck (from the Chinook) of mots justes, schleps a smorgasbord of borrowed bon mots out for a viewing. Each of the originally foreign words included here has crept its way into use by speakers of English--a language, says Ehrlich in his introduction, that "has long been an active borrower and lender." Some of the words included--hashish (Arabic), shampoo (Hindi), tutu (French)--are more common than others: favela (Brazilian Portuguese), izzat (Urdu), nautch (Hindi). Many debuted on the menus of ethnic restaurants. All receive star treatment from Ehrlich, who for each entry offers pronunciation, derivation, meaning(s), history and examples of use in English, and a heavy dose of humor. Call Ehrlich what you may--pundit, swami, maestro, savant. If you learn to gabble like the literati, no one will look askance the next time you spill ketchup on your muumuu at your local coffee klatsch. --Jane Steinberg

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Bibliographic Details

Title: You've Got Ketchup on Your Muumuu: An A--to-...
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: 2000
Book Condition: Good
Edition: 1st.

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Ehrlich, Eugene
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (2000)
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