The title caught me at first glance and this book is almost like the pocket-sized foreign language phrase books I had both in format and size. It has words commonly mispronounced by plebeians (hmm, maybe this word should have been included in the book) like most of us, with the proper pronunciation broken down phonetically as a solution to not sound like an ignoramus. It also has quick intros and pertinent information on the word and its origins. It’s not at all surprising most of them are French although it has words and people’s names from all parts of the globe.
One particular thing that bothered me was the justified correct wrong pronunciation of Don Juan (Don JEW-ahn). It’s not the writers’ fault however, but I learned it is a play on the pronunciation by Lord Byron himself which I personally find unacceptable. It’s common sense if I pronounced Juan (Whan) as JEW-ahn, I’d literally be begging for correction except it’s actually worse if one asserts it to be the correct pronunciation and still say it wrong. Should I find myself in the middle of an awkward pause because I refuse to say Don JEW-ahn, I’ll plainly tell them to go to a Spanish-speaking country and see what happens.
Can you believe Ku Klux Klan (koo klux klan) even made it in here? They should have made a section dedicated to mispronounced names instead of mixing it along with the words, terms and some phrases which seems a tad unorganized. The words and terms are arranged alphabetically however, which makes up for that. Siobhan (shih-VAWN) which means “God is gracious” in Irish made it in here and also Hermione (her-MY-oh-nee). People can grab the same spelling and could easily decide to put a spin on the way it is pronounced and such is the case with Don Juan apparently.
I got this book without initially being able to skim through what’s in it (via a book review program) simply because of my interest in Linguistics but I found the section about How To Sound Like A Fashionista, How To Sound Well Read, How To Sound Philosophical, how to sound like you’re somebody other than yourself etc. to be rather funny. Knowing these names and terms won’t actually do one any good unless people bother to delve deeper other than what’s in this book otherwise, should someone decide to further the conversation about the said word and subject, if you don’t know anything else, you will still end up probably being mortified in front of the one you’re trying to impress which could easily be averted by not pretending to be a know-it-all in the first place.
Apart from my one gripe, admittedly, this book is witty although pardon me if I sound too blunt, it is more of a must have for those who are intent to impress people by “appearing” to be cultured and reminds me of Frasier and Niles conversing at some Cocktail party which is not my inclination. I’m more the introverted, aloof type who wishes to stand by the balcony overlooking the scenery in peace but will politely respond to someone who wants to engage in a conversation. Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly, would no doubt have this in her purse at all times.
Setting aside the aura of ostentation this book gives me, this is an honest review after all, I consider this to be a quick and fun read and I learned quite a lot from a small book, only 180 pages. I’d opt for a full single language phonetic phrase book instead but that would defeat the wide-ranging & well-rounded purpose. This book would be appealing to people who are into languages (myself included), grammar, and possibly even writers who would like to use foreign words in their writing. It would make a fun giveaway to a logophile with a sense of humor.
[This is my unadulterated review for a complimentary copy of the aforementioned book which I received from Blogging for Books ]