The Deeper Meaning of Liff: A Dictionary of Things There Aren't Any Words for Yet--But There Ought to Be

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A rollicking, thought-provoking dictionary for the modern age, featuring definitions for those things we don't have words for, from the New York Times bestselling author behind The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, and TV producer John Lloyd.

Does the sensation of Tingrith(1) make you yelp? Do you bend sympathetically when you see someone Ahenny(2)? Can you deal with a Naugatuck(3) without causing a Toronto(4)? Will you suffer from Kettering(5) this summer?

Probably. You are almost certainly familiar with all these experiences but just didn’t know that there are words for them. Well, in fact, there aren’t—or rather there weren’t, until Douglas Adams and John Lloyd decided to plug these egregious linguistic lacunae(6). They quickly realized that just as there are an awful lot of experiences that no one has a name for, so there are an awful lot of names for places you will never need to go to. What a waste. As responsible citizens of a small and crowded world, we must all learn the virtues of recycling(7) and put old, worn-out but still serviceable names to exciting, vibrant, new uses. This is the book that does that for you: The Deeper Meaning of Liff—a whole new solution to the problem of Great Wakering(8)

1—The feeling of aluminum foil against your fillings.

2—The way people stand when examining other people’s bookshelves.

3—A plastic packet containing shampoo, mustard, etc., which is impossible to open except by biting off
the corners.

4—Generic term for anything that comes out in a gush, despite all your efforts to let it out carefully, e.g., flour into a white sauce, ketchup onto fish, a dog into the yard, and another naughty meaning that we can’t put on the cover.

5—The marks left on your bottom and thighs after you’ve been sitting sunbathing in a wicker chair.

6—God knows what this means

7—For instance, some of this book was first published in Britain twenty-six years ago.

8—Look it up yourself.
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About the author

Douglas Adams was the bestselling author of many works including The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which was turned into a major motion picture. He died in 2001.

John Lloyd is (he says) Britain’s most successful television comedy producer since Chaucer and is responsible for Not the Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image, and Blackadder, among others.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Crown Archetype
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Published on
Apr 26, 2005
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9780307238740
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Language
English
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Genres
Humor / Form / Puns & Wordplay
Humor / Topic / Language
Reference / Dictionaries
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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One of the English language’s most skilled and beloved writers guides us all toward precise, mistake-free usage.

As usual Bill Bryson says it best: “English is a dazzlingly idiosyncratic tongue, full of quirks and irregularities that often seem willfully at odds with logic and common sense. This is a language where ‘cleave’ can mean to cut in half or to hold two halves together; where the simple word ‘set’ has 126 different meanings as a verb, 58 as a noun, and 10 as a participial adjective; where if you can run fast you are moving swiftly, but if you are stuck fast you are not moving at all; [and] where ‘colonel,’ ‘freight,’ ‘once,’ and ‘ache’ are strikingly at odds with their spellings.” As a copy editor for the London Times in the early 1980s, Bill Bryson felt keenly the lack of an easy-to-consult, authoritative guide to avoiding the traps and snares in English, and so he brashly suggested to a publisher that he should write one. Surprisingly, the proposition was accepted, and for “a sum of money carefully gauged not to cause embarrassment or feelings of overworth,” he proceeded to write that book–his first, inaugurating his stellar career.

Now, a decade and a half later, revised, updated, and thoroughly (but not overly) Americanized, it has become Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, more than ever an essential guide to the wonderfully disordered thing that is the English language. With some one thousand entries, from “a, an” to “zoom,” that feature real-world examples of questionable usage from an international array of publications, and with a helpful glossary and guide to pronunciation, this precise, prescriptive, and–because it is written by Bill Bryson–often witty book belongs on the desk of every person who cares enough about the language not to maul or misuse or distort it.


From the Hardcover edition.
On Friday, May 11, 2001, the world mourned the untimely passing of Douglas Adams, beloved creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, dead of a heart attack at age forty-nine. Thankfully, in addition to a magnificent literary legacy—which includes seven novels and three co-authored works of nonfiction—Douglas left us something more. The book you are about to enjoy was rescued from his four computers, culled from an archive of chapters from his long-awaited novel-in-progress, as well as his short stories, speeches, articles, interviews, and letters.

In a way that none of his previous books could, The Salmon of Doubt provides the full, dazzling, laugh-out-loud experience of a journey through the galaxy as perceived by Douglas Adams. From a boy’s first love letter (to his favorite science fiction magazine) to the distinction of possessing a nose of heroic proportions; from climbing Kilimanjaro in a rhino costume to explaining why Americans can’t make a decent cup of tea; from lyrical tributes to the sublime pleasures found in music by Procol Harum, the Beatles, and Bach to the follies of his hopeless infatuation with technology; from fantastic, fictional forays into the private life of Genghis Khan to extended visits with Dirk Gently and Zaphod Beeblebrox: this is the vista from the elevated perch of one of the tallest, funniest, most brilliant, and most penetrating social critics and thinkers of our time.

Welcome to the wonderful mind of Douglas Adams.


From the Hardcover edition.
On Friday, May 11, 2001, the world mourned the untimely passing of Douglas Adams, beloved creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, dead of a heart attack at age forty-nine. Thankfully, in addition to a magnificent literary legacy—which includes seven novels and three co-authored works of nonfiction—Douglas left us something more. The book you are about to enjoy was rescued from his four computers, culled from an archive of chapters from his long-awaited novel-in-progress, as well as his short stories, speeches, articles, interviews, and letters.

In a way that none of his previous books could, The Salmon of Doubt provides the full, dazzling, laugh-out-loud experience of a journey through the galaxy as perceived by Douglas Adams. From a boy’s first love letter (to his favorite science fiction magazine) to the distinction of possessing a nose of heroic proportions; from climbing Kilimanjaro in a rhino costume to explaining why Americans can’t make a decent cup of tea; from lyrical tributes to the sublime pleasures found in music by Procol Harum, the Beatles, and Bach to the follies of his hopeless infatuation with technology; from fantastic, fictional forays into the private life of Genghis Khan to extended visits with Dirk Gently and Zaphod Beeblebrox: this is the vista from the elevated perch of one of the tallest, funniest, most brilliant, and most penetrating social critics and thinkers of our time.

Welcome to the wonderful mind of Douglas Adams.


From the Hardcover edition.
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