Never Enough Words: How Americans Invented Expressions as Ingenious, Ornery, and Colorful as Themselves

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Random House, 1999 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 278 pages
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From native words to current coinages, the American vocabulary highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of the national personality. In Never Enough Words, Jeffrey McQuain, the noted guest writer for William Safire's On Language column, offers a fascinating look at the evolution of American language and the agility, with which Americans apply old words to new situations, resulting in new meanings. From the humorous (lawyer bird, named for its long bill) to the sonorous (whippoorwills and katydids, named for the sounds they make), McQuain demonstrates how our distinctive American traits -- bravado, inventiveness, and patriotism, to name a few -- have uniquely shaped our language.

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Never enough words: how Americans invented expressions as ingenious, ornery, and colorful as themselves

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McQuain, guest columnist for William Safire's "On Language" column in the New York Times Magazine, surveys "memorable terms" from the "Pathfinder" of the 1840s to the Pathfinder mission to Mars. What ... Read full review



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About the author (1999)

Jeffery McQuain has been guest columnist for William Safire and has a national reputation as a word history expert and Shakespeare scholar.

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