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  The Words of the Day
The Unlikely Evolution of Common English

Dr. Steven M. Cerutti PhD.

Retail Price $27.95 / £19.95

Key Features About the Authors Table of Contents
  Reader Comments Errata

- Order now and get 30% off the retail price!

Only $19.95

ISBN: 0-9761573-3-0
ISBN 13: 978-0976157335
Library of Congress Number: 2005928017
222 pages - Perfect Bind  9x7 PD 106
Shelving: Reference/Language Pedagogue Series # 1


The English language was largely influenced by the ancient languages of the Romans and the Greeks, and this entertaining and educational book shows the amazing origins of words that we use everyday.   

Let Dr. Cerutti show you how to sharpen your word usage, sharpen the dull edge of your vernacular, blunted over the years by hearing, reading and speaking words that you have never truly understood.

Combining Dr. Cerutti's authoritative command over the English language with uncanny scholarship and his own unique wry wit, this book is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered about common word usage.
 

 
Key Features

* Learn the amazing origins of profane words

* Understand how words dramatically change meaning in just a few centuries.

* Learn words to insult your enemies without their knowledge

* Make up words to say exactly what you mean

* Learn how words have come to mean the opposite of what they actually mean

* Learn to insult your enemies without their knowledge

* Understand the real meaning of our numbers

About the Author:


Dr. Steven M. Cerutti

Dr. Steven M. Cerutti has a Ph.D. in Classics from Duke University and is an internationally recognized expert on word origins. Considered one of the world's leading authorities on Classical literature, art, and architecture, Dr. Cerutti is a professor of Classical Studies at East Carolina University where his courses are consistently voted "most popular" among the over 20,000 undergraduate student population.

Steve is also a private pilot and enjoys flying with his wife, Chandra, who is an instructor of English Literature and Composition at East Carolina University. Both Steve and Chandra are classically trained pianists and enjoy performing at informal faculty gatherings or formal university functions.


Dr. Steven M. Cerutti has been studying words for decades and specializes in understanding the unlikely origins of English words and phrases.  With a genius for making word origins fun, Professor Cerutti mesmerizes young minds with his exciting and shocking insights into the roots of modern jargon.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Mixology: How words Work
Chapter 2: Word Power
Chapter 3: The “F” Word: Part One
Chapter 4: Vowel Movements
Chapter 5: Going Negative
Chapter 6: School Words
Chapter 7: The Body Eclectic
Chapter 8: Everybody Do the Wave
Chapter 9: True Lies
Chapter 10: Copping the “‘tude”
Chapter 11: Money, Money
Chapter 12: Pornography: How To Know It When You See It
Chapter 13: The “F” Word Part 2
Chapter 14: It Was All Greek To Them (And Still Is)
Chapter 15: How Words Change
Chapter 16: Let’s Get Small
Chapter 17: The Ten Most Misused Words
Chapter 18: Anagrams and Stop Signs
Chapter 19: Big Hat, Small Heard
Chapter 20: Bringing It All Together

Reader comments and news:

  • Know What to Say - The East Carolinian

    "He amazed his students with both funny and naughty stories from Roman and Greek mythology, and captured their minds with his true knowledge and energy about words." 

"Almost a year ago Dr. Cerutti received a phone call from Don Burleson, whose son Andrew was in his class and couldn't stop talking about it. Don Burleson is a publisher (Rampant Press) and was very interested in codifying his class.  "I was blown away", said Cerutti."

"Cerutti's curriculum is thus entertaining in addition to being educational. As such, his Classics 1300 was voted the university's most popular class in a student poll taken by campus newspaper The East Carolinian a few years ago."

"After class one day, his office phone rang. It was the father of one of his students. "My son can't stop talking about your class," the man said to Cerutti. "I happen to run an independent publishing house. I would like to codify your class into a book." From that conversation, Cerutti received a contract to distill his Greek and Latin for Vocabulary Building course into a book."

 

A great book by a great man..., August 3, 2006
 
Reviewer: G. Kaupp (Columbia, SC) 
(REAL NAME)   
Being a former student of Dr. Cerutti's, I am a little biased. But I took the class to which he refers in his text, and it was even funnier than the book itself. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as did some of my colleagues who also read it. I remember the day he wrote a big "FA" on the board and then proceeded to lecture away, just as he did in the chapter on "fa" and "pha". Overall, a very pleasant adaptation of his class.
 

 
Scholar? Comedian? BOTH!!, April 9, 2006
 
Reviewer: Tommy Gunn (Northampton, MA USA) - See all my reviews
Cerutti's previous books have all been Greek to me but this one was written in the universal language of humor, making it accessible even to those of us who are not classicists! This book will teach you about the origins of words and expressions we use every day as well as Greek and Roman mythology. Best of all, you'll laugh your [...] off through the whole thing (and you'll probably blush a bit too). Cerutti's WORDS is for anyone who is educated, who wants to become educated, who wants to appear educated, or who wants to laugh at others who think they're educated. I'm hoping for a sequel!
 

 
I loved this book!, March 19, 2006
 
Reviewer: Edith Ripley (Richmond, VA)
I bought this book on a tip from a friend who said it helped her hugely on the verbal portion of the GRE, plus she said it was the funniest thing she had ever read. I am getting ready to take the SAT so I read it and she was right! This book makes understanding words not only easy, but fun, too! The author is a great storyteller, and knowing the stories behind the words helps you remember what they mean much better than memorizing flashcards. This book actually makes you feel smarter. I plan to read it again right before I take the test! Wish me luck! But with Cerutti's Words of the Day under my belt, I know I'll do fine.
 

 
Homer meets Andrew Dice Clay, March 16, 2006
 
Reviewer: John Rogers
This book takes you on a roller-coaster ride through the classical origins of the English language from page one! Cerutti has a feel for Greek and Roman mythology that I've never encountered before, and I was a classics major as an undergrad! I learned more about the classical world from reading this book than I did in college. And it's extremely funny! Try "Homer meets Andrew Dice Clay!" I found myself laughing out loud dozens of times. Chapter five, on the sexual exploits of Apollo is worth the price of the book alone. This book would make an excellent gift for anyone with a healthy sense of humor and a keen interest in words--even the "naughty" ones. This book rocks!
 

 
Great and fun book!, March 11, 2006
 
Reviewer: Kelly "Kelly" -
I greatly enjoyed this book as an introduction to the ancestry of English. It is a fun read and has some really funny stories about word origins.
 
   
Blending the Classics with Cussing

By Steve Tuttle

Classics 1300 was voted No. 1 in a campus newspaper popularity poll by students who raved about the professor—Dr. Steven Cerutti—and his entertaining lectures, which always begin by exploring the origins of a “word of the day.” Cerutti usually chooses words that typify the strong Latin or Greek roots of many common English words. But sometimes he selects a shocker.

Take fornication, for example, one recent word of the day. To explain how the word came to mean having sex outside marriage, Cerutti gave a lesson in Roman architecture, which was defined by its use of graceful arches. The Latin root word for arch is fornic, so any large building using many arches was a fornication. Similarly, a building with walls strengthened against attack was a fortification.

A good example of fornication architecture in Rome was the Circus Maximus, where vendors sold wine and bread from shops set up under the arches of the palatial stadium. To attract customers to the arena on days without chariot races, some shops became brothels. Randy Romans of the day would cloak their reasons for visiting the Circus Maximus by saying, wink, wink, that they were going “arching.”

Now, Cerutti has compiled that and many other illuminating peeks inside the English language for a new book, Words of the Day: The Unlikely Evolution of Common English. It’s the fifth he’s written on the topic and it’s required reading in his class this semester. The book is illustrated by ECU student Joel White.
 
“It’s unfortunate that everyone seems to focus on the off-color words we examine in class and in the book,” Cerutti says. “But I believe strongly that you can’t fully understand and appreciate our language without knowing how it evolved.” Not studying some words—the four-letter kind—would be like studying European history and omitting Stalin just because he was a bad man, Cerutti says. He is careful to warn students in the class syllabus that those with sensitive ears may be offended by some words discussed in class. However, all the blue words can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Some come to class already aware that English is constantly evolving, and not just those driving freshly painted and repaired cars. Until this generation, pimp was an off-color word meaning a shady character who controls prostitutes. Now it has morphed from a noun to a verb and acquired a positive image, as in “pimp my ride.”

In Words of the Day, Cerutti reminds readers that words are powerful and should be used with precision. He cites the example of the former Virginia lieutenant governor who once commented that a looming budget deficit meant the state would have to be niggardly in its spending on certain programs. “He used the word absolutely correctly, meaning the state had scanty or meager resources. But some people thought he was making a disparaging remark about African-Americans. It caused such a ruckus he had to resign.”

Most students take the class as an elective to satisfy degree requirements in General Education/Humanities. But many come back for more, which explains the interest in Cerutti’s other classes, Introduction to the Classical World 2000, Women in Classical Antiquity 2400, The Ancient City Rome 3400 and The Ancient City Pompeii 3410.

When he came to ECU in 1992 after finishing his doctorate at Duke University, Cerutti was asked to improve the university’s offerings in the classics. He expanded the classical studies program, redesigned the Latin curriculum and introduced Greek. Nearly half of the more than 60 classes now offered by the department explore classic languages, arts and culture. For the modern minded, the department also offers French, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Italian.

Cerutti says he was inspired to write Words of the Day during a tour of the Tower of London, where a guide explained that the condemned once were required to pay the executioner for chopping off their heads. If the sack of money offered tipped the scales favorably, the executioner would use his sharp axe, not the dull one. From that ghastly exchange, Cerutti learned, have grown the concepts of “tipping” and “severance pay.”

 

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