Just recently, I came across an old friend I haven’t had much to do with in recent years. On second thought, I’m not sure I can call someone I’ve never met a friend, even though the addiction or obsession we share makes him seem like one.
His name is Gyles Brandreth. Born in England, he was educated at Oxford University, served as a Member of Parliament, and as an official in the government of former Prime Minister John Major.
To me, however, his most significant accomplishments have been as an author. For the past 30-plus years, he’s been right here, sitting on the shelves of my library, between the covers of two volumes that should be part of every word lover’s book collection: The Joy of Lex, published in 1980, and More Joy of Lex, which followed two years later.
In the Introduction to the first book, Brandreth describes himself as a word freak. “I’m fascinated by language,” he writes, “the way we use it and abuse it, the way we can manipulate it and be manipulated by it, the tricks we can play with it, the marvels we can create with it, the sheer fun we can have with it.”
In this and coming posts, we’ll present some excerpts from Brandreth’s books. Today’s topic is Oronyms, defined as series of words or phrases that sound the same as another series of words or a phrase, but with different spellings. For example:
The stuffy nose can lead to problems.
The stuff he knows can lead to problems.
White shoes: the trademark of Pat Boone.
Why choose the trademark of Pat Boone?
A politician’s fate often hangs in a delicate balance.
A politician’s fate often hangs in a delegate balance.
In future posts, we’ll take a look at, among other things, lipograms, neologisms and portmanteaus (sometimes called telescopes or jumbles). We think you’ll agree that we do have a language that’s enormously exciting and entertaining. Stay tuned!