Education: Report from the Jungle

"I have a mind like blotting paper," British Lexicographer Eric Partridge once said. In the past dozen years, he has blotted up enough odd facts about words ("It becomes a dreadful habit") to fill a Dictionary of Slang, a Dictionary of Cliches and a Dictionary of the Underworld. Last week the latest product of his addiction was on U.S. bookshelves. Name into Word (Macmillan; $4.50) was a colorful catalogue of "proper names that have become common property."

To Lexicographer Partridge "no word is a mere word." Words, says he, become the "mirror of society and the index of civilization." * Sometimes a...

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