Gallimaufry: A hodgepodge of our vanishing vocabulary

by Michael Quinion (Oxford University Press, 2006): 288pp, £12.99, ISBN 0 19 861062 9.

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The like, Language Report for real

by Susie Dent (Oxford University Press, 2006): 176pp, £10.99, ISBN 0 19 920766 6.

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Movers and Shakers: A chronology of words that shaped our age

by John Ayto (Oxford University Press, rev. ed. 2006): 256pp, £12.99, ISBN 0 19 861452 7.

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Oxford BBC Guide to Pronunciation

(Oxford University Press, 3rd ed. 2006): 448pp, £14.99, ISBN 0 19 280710 2.

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Totally Weird and Wonderful Words

edited by Erin McKean (Oxford University Press, US, 2007): 296pp, £8.99 (pbk), ISBN 0 19 531212 0.

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A group review by Michèle Clarke

Is it only me, or are there just too many books out there at the moment covering new words, funny words, unusual words, interesting phrases and sayings, dreadful grammar and appalling (or hilarious if from over our borders) spelling mistakes? How many more such books can there be, for goodness' sake? They all seem to come just before Christmas, so our stockings are full of presents that good friends just had to buy us because we are in the 'word' industry and they thought we would be delighted to receive yet another to sit on our shelves.

Here are another five from OUP, all nicely produced, and all, in their way, interesting. If you need something to help you with disappearing words ('lalligag' comes to mind), go for Gallimaufry. If you need to know about new words (why, I wonder, do 'mandals' make me think more of male indexers than of my partner?), go for The, like, Language Report for real. If you need to know about words that shaped our age from the 1900s onwards (interesting that 'ageism' was born in my heyday of the 1960s and now I can use it on publishers who think I may be past it), then go for Movers and Shakers.

If you need to know that 'Kabalega Falls' is stressed on the third syllable, then go for the Oxford BBC Guide to Pronunciation. Totally Weird and Wonderful Words carries on from More Weird and Wonderful Words, which was reviewed in the January/February 2005 issue of CopyRight. The present volume has good cartoons illustrating some of the words.

I do rather like odd antiquated words used no more – I often go the pub for a spot of persiflage myself. However, this weekend I could be found searching my pond for a bout of spanghewing, but the RSPCA might pay the hangman a loon-slatt to keep me from doing it again. I myself don't want more like this in my stocking this Christmas … my shelves are already groaning.

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