Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends by David Wilton
The description from Daedalus Books (my favorite overstock bookseller) says:
Were you ever told that “Ring Around the Rosie” is about the Black Death of the Middle Ages? Or that the “whole nine yards” refers to the length of a machine gun ammo belt on a World War II fighter plane? Or that Eskimos have dozens or even hundreds of words for snow? Verbal debunker David Wilton is here to tell you that you have been taken in by a “linguistic urban legend.” As popular and pervasive as their folktale counterparts, linguistic legends spread stories and “facts” about language and words. They are usually false—as Wilton explains in dozens of examples from “OK” to a certain four-letter word Norman Mailer spelled as “fug”—but they often contain elements of truth that reflect on us and our society.
Sounds like this book combines two topics of interest to me…words and history (particularly myth debunking)!
Though, I don’t know anything about Wilton other than that he runs a website called wordorigins.org so I hope he’s a legitimate expert on the topic. Looking at his resume on his website, I can see that he’s worked in high-tech product management and security/defense and arms controls for most of his professional life. Hmm…