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Alphabet Juice

The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory

Macmillan Audio

Ali G: How many words does you know?

Noam Chomsky: Normally, humans, by maturity, have tens of thousands of them.

Ali G: What is some of 'em?

— Youtube.com
 
After forty years of making a living using words in every medium, print or electronic, except greeting cards, Roy Blount Jr. still can’t get over his ABCs. In Alphabet Juice, he celebrates the juju, the sonic and kinetic energies of letters and their combinations. Blount does not prescribe proper English. The franchise he claims is “over the counter” and concentrates more on questions such as these: Did you know that both mammal and matter derive from baby talk? Have you noticed how wince makes you wince?

Three and a half centuries ago, Sir Thomas Blount produced Blount’s Glossographia, the first dictionary to explore derivations of English words. This Blount’s Glossographia takes that pursuit to other levels. It rejects the standard linguistic notion that the connection between words and their meanings is “arbitrary.” Even the word arbitrary is shown to be no more arbitrary, at its roots, than go-to guy or crackerjack. From sources as venerable as the OED (in which Blount finds an inconsistency, at whisk) and as fresh as Urbandictionary.com (to which Blount has contributed the number-one definition of “alligator arm”), and especially from the author’s own wide-ranging experience, Alphabet Juice derives an organic take on language that is unlike, and more fun than, any other.

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  • Roy Blount Jr. reads from his book, Alphabet Juice

    Roy Blount Jr. in the studio recording the audio version of Alphabet Juice. Here he meditates on how “oink” was chosen to describe the noise a pig makes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Roy Blount Jr. is the author of twenty books, covering subjects from the Pittsburgh Steelers to Robert E. Lee, to trying to understand the South. He is a regular panelist on NPR’s Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! and is a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly.  Born in Indianapolis and raised in Decatur, Georgia, Blount now lives in western Massachusetts with his wife, the painter Joan Griswold.

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Available Formats and Book Details

Alphabet Juice

The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory

Washington Post Best Books of the Year, AudioFile Best Audiobooks
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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Macmillan Audio

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