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Haruki Murakami is a worldwide bestselling author and one of my personal favorites. His hotly awaied latest novel, 1Q84, sold out in seconds in Japan and had American readers salivating for months awaiting the English translation. But on the first page of the English-language edition, a diabolical diacritical introduced a printing error--ARGH! What is up with these devilish little marks, often called accents, that pop up in foreign words to confuse and confound us English speakers?

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What's the scariest word YOU can think of? Bet it's not "dord."

 

Halloween is coming on. From Damned, Chuck Palaniuk's latest, to Goosebumps, we love stories of the afterlife. But what's really scary to a wordsmith? The dreaded GHOST WORD! Learn more about these phantoms as we look at the only ghost word that ever made it into Merriam-Webster. . . the only one. . . we think.

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Brooklyn-based author Hillary Jordan's debut novel, Mudbound, about racial tension in the post-World War II south, earned both honors and sales; her latest, When She Woke is a dystopian futuristic look at red, blue, and yellow people. Jordan discusses making up a new world and new words, serial commas, numerals, and more in this special interview.

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The Red Sox are out, the Yankees are in (again), and the 2011 playoffs begin. As another baseball season closes and heads toward the World Series, I wonder, Why is it that baseball language sings so sweetly on the page? Were literature a contest, which baseball books would make my personal playoffs?

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The Brady Bunch has never been off the air in 40 years, as Florence Henderson, aka Carol Brady, notes in the introduction to her memoir, Life Is Not a Stage. Henderson's book is a clear-eyed, forthright, compassionate, and fearless look back at her fascinating but occasionally troubled life and her journey to peace, serenity, and joy—decidedly not the life of Carol Brady. Yet one question is never addressed: Why are the six young Bradys never referred to as stepchildren or stepsisters and stepbrothers? And where does the word "step-" come from anyway?

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In Washington, D.C., a new monument ot Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. paraphrases one of his quotes. Poet Maya Angelou, among others, laments the inscription, saying it makes King sound arrogant. "Omit needless words": Strunk & White's dictum from the classic Elements of Style is drummed into writers' heads, especially young writing students heading back to school. But when are words needless--or much needed?

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Between the Sam Tanner quote dashing 'round the Internet and the Old Navy collegiate shirt fiasco, apostrophes are big news! Let's check out the blog Apostrophe Catastrophes, as well as some books that might help as we look at this little grammar troublemaker. Let's get 'em!

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Rick Perry's running for president. But Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Austin says the Republican Perry is "all hat and no cattle." Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the Democratic National Chair, said the same thing. Who knows if it's right--what does it mean? Author Mim Harrison talks about the expression on on her blog, and about her new book on American regional language, Wicked Good Words with us here.

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Figures of speech aren't just for grammar geeks; comics geeks love 'em too. Onomatepoeia is one of our most common and beloved figures of speech. What would Batman and Captain America do without it?

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In Miranda July's new movie, The Future,  a pending cat adoption throws Sophie (July) and her aimless boyfriend (Hamish Linklater) into a frenzy of bucket-list, do-it-before-time-runs-out living for 30 days. That is, if confused, quirky, whimsical 30-somethings had a bucket list. The very ill kitty they're adopting--is it a metaphor for parenthood, growing up, or death? Or is it an allegory of any of those things? Untangle the rhetorical devices that make this movie work and take a tour through Miranda July's body of work.

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About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.

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