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08 January 2011

Book Review: Words from the Myths

Words from the MythsWords from the Myths by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book.

It's mannered.  It's old-fashioned.   The back-flap "about the author" blurb is charmingly cheeky.

But it is chock full of interesting tidbits about the parts of our language that originate in myth.  Chock.  Full.

We all know why the Achilles tendon is called that but who knew that the word "stentorian" comes from a minor character in Homer, Stentor, who was a herald who was able to rally the army effectively because he had a voice as loud as fifty men?  And who knew that there is a one-celled creature called "stentor" because it is shaped like a megaphone?

Why do we sometimes swear "By Jiminy?"  Well, because of Castor and Pollux, of course, the twins of Gemini.  The Romans respected them and often swore by them.  Apparently we still do, too.

This book is 220 pages of "Oh!  Really?  Wow!"  And it only makes it more readable that the style is so proper and mannered yet intimate, like a face-to-face conversation.

This is a book I should read again.  And again.  And then again once more.


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