Quotables: Roy Blount Jr.

Awhile ago I picked up the book Alphabet Juice and I am having a ton of fun with it - mostly because I'm a nerd.

This book is unique and I am going to let the inside cover do the talking: Did you know that both mammal and matter derive from baby talk? Have you noticed how wince makes you wince? Ever wonder why so many h-words have to do with breath?

Roy Blount Jr. certainly has, and after 40 years of making a living using words in every medium, print or electronic, (author of over 30 books) except greeting cards, he still can't get over his ABC's. In Alphabet Juice, he celebrates the electricity, the juju, the sonic and kinetic energies, of letters and their combinations. 

As I mentioned, I am having a ton of fun with this book. It consists of entries that resemble a dictionary but rather than definitions, Blount provides us with a humorous and intellectual take on what makes words so scrumptious.  And, of course, the book is filled with words involving usage and grammar. 

Here are two of my favorites so far:


Is heard more and more often in conversation as truth gets more and more relative, whether we like it or not. We need a good solid thumping way of saying yes when, as Alessandra Stanley puts it in The New York Time's, "practically every... drama in prime time is a spooky mystery in which things are never as they seem and nobody can be trusted". Cf. amen


AHD says this is perhaps from the Old English grynde, meaning "abyss" or "hallow," influenced by loin. WIII agrees on grynde (related to ground) but says the oin influence is from the British-dialect groin (related to grunt) meaning "the nose and sometimes the upper lip of an animal (as a swine)."

   (Omigod, I just discovered where oink comes from.)
   If you ask me, groin is a portmanteau of grind, as in bump and grind, and loin.

I also enjoyed Blount's take on Google but the entry is three pages long and in my book, that surpasses a quotable. 

You can read the introduction of Alphabet Juice, courtesy of The New York Times and a review that actually does the book justice, via The Washington Post

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