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review 2017-02-09 09:50
Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk
Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse , and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide - Josh Katz

Peregrinations mentioned this book in one of her posts and of course I had to immediately get it.  I live in a place where I am daily questioned on how I talk, and this has fostered a fascination with the English language and accents in particular.

 

This is a larger format book, not quite coffee table sized, but it could definitely hold its own with the art and architecture tomes.  Each page features large full color heat maps, showing the prevalence for one word over another (or one pronunciation over another) in each part of the country.  Some maps are mostly homogeneous ("roundabout"); some look as though someone drew a line through the country (usually an east/west line dividing north and south, of course) ("pyjamas").

 

MT and I had a great time comparing words and pronunciations, and laughing at the differences (and sometimes even similarities).  We had fun trying to figure out his spirit state, and while it became clear that I've picked up words and pronunciations from around the country (mostly Minnesota), I was happy to see that my language still places me firmly in my home state of Florida.

 

An interesting look at the differences between us that are fun rather than confronting and a great conversation starter.

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review 2017-01-31 05:25
Butter: A Rich History
Butter: A Rich History - Elaine Khosrova

I hesitated for while over this one; I mean, how much can really be said about butter?  It seemed like a stretch.

 

It would have been too, if the entire 344 pages had just been about the story of butter.  But, in fact, only about half the book is dedicated the butter's rich history and present day revival.  And wow, what a rich history is was too; I had no idea that butter carving is a thing or that it is so intricately tied to so many ceremonies of worship around the world.  The prologue about Yak milking in the mountains of Bhutan caught my attention and the rest of the 10 or so chapters held it firmly, especially chapter 8, which not only discusses all the reversals in diet advice happening today, but inadvertently serves as an indictment of sorts on modern journalism.  Chapter 8 left me with a lot to think about.

 

The second half of the book is used to share recipes that without butter would not exist: pound cake, buttercream frosting, pie crusts, etc.  I'm definitely trying the scones and the pull apart biscuits sooner rather than later.  

 

The best part, for me, though is at the end, when she gives step by step instructions for making your own fresh butter, cultured butter, ghee, clarified and compound butters.  I almost bought the book just for these pages and I'm not disappointed.  I can't wait to try making my own butter (as soon as I figure out the Aussie translation of "heavy" cream).  As she says, you'll almost never save any money making your own, but I think it would be fun to be able to say "I made my own butter!".

 

Recommended for history and food lovers - or people deeply interested in where their food comes from.

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review 2017-01-21 08:59
Around the World in 80 Clichés
Around the World in 80 Cliches: Overused Expressions from Across the Globe - Laura Lee Hope

This is one of those books that is impossible to read without torturing sharing the most interesting bits with your friend/spouse/the stranger on the train sitting next to you.

 

The title is not quite accurate as the author herself confesses in the introduction.  The book is broken into 80 categories of clichés, (Hope, Madness, Anger, Sex, etc.) which means there are many, many more than 80 clichés featured here.  They are primarily English-origin, but every category also includes several international sayings, and whenever equivalents in other languages to a specific saying exists, she mentions them in the entry.  So really, the balance feels more 50/50.  

 

Breaking up the comprehensive listings are small breakout sections that cover a phrase more in-depth, and 1 question quizzes about foreign phrases and their meanings.  Such as:

 

If a Dutch speaker says "It is as if an angel is pissing on your tongue." (Alsof er een engeltje over je tong piest.), what does he mean?

  1. The meal is delicious
  2. You speak beautifully
  3. You are a great singer
  4. You are lucky

 

Answer:

A.  Apparently angel piss tastes like champagne

(spoiler show)

 

I'm quickly building a largish collection of language-origin books, so I found quite a few in this one that overlapped with others I've read lately, but my favourite still remains one that I've used for awhile, I could not have said where it came from until I read Speaking in Tongues, and it was included here too, as a favourite of the author's.  It's Polish and I think it's the perfect way to say "sooo not my problem":

 

Not my circus, not my monkeys

 

Suitable for language lovers and those that want to torture share the love of language with friends and family.

 

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review 2017-01-01 15:40
Meet Me In Atlantis by Mark Adams
Meet Me in Atlantis: My Quest to Find the 2,500-Year-Old Sunken City - Mark Adams An interesting look at all the various hypotheses regarding the location of Atlantis. An interesting detective story.
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review 2017-01-01 14:17
Chronicles from Pre-Celtic Europe by Alewyn J Raubenheimer
Chronicles from pre-Celtic Europe: (Survivors of the Great Tsunami) - Alewyn J Raubenheimer

Chronicles from Pre-Celtic Europe takes a look at the contents of the Oera Lind Book and matches this up with modern archaeological, paleoclimatological, linguistical and genetic findings.  The book is well written and extremely interesting.  It provides food for thought and hopefully some additional research.

 

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