Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 42 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Peyton Manning's Plans After Super Bowl Win: 'I Want to Go Kiss My Wife and My Kids' ... and 'Drink a Lot of Budweiser'
- Read the Cover Story: Amy Duggar King: I'm Doing It My Way
- Marshawn Lynch Appears to Retire Mid-Super Bowl
- Celebrities Cheer on Lady Gaga's Performance – Including Ellen DeGeneres: 'I'm So Glad I Loaned You My Jumpsuit'
- Saoirse Ronan Bonded with Jamie Foster Over the Pressures of Navigating Hollywood as a Former Child Star
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- October 03, 1988
- Vol. 30
- No. 14
Richard Lederer Gets a Jolt from Mixed-Up Metaphors, Malapropisms and Other Faucets of Errant English
"Language is like the air we breathe," says Lederer, a donnish 50-year-old English teacher at St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H. "It's invisible, it's all around us, and we can't get along without it. But we take it for granted."
The linguistic lummoxes cited by Lederer run the gauntlet (er, gamut) from newspaper headline editors ("Man Held Over Giant L.A. Brush Fire") to advertising copywriters, students, signmakers, lawyers, politicians and even church rectors ("This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. White to come forward and lay an egg on the altar"). The more than 1,000 entries in his book are "the ripest fruits of a lifetime of dedicated gathering," says Lederer.
One of five children born to a West Philadelphia textile salesman and his wife, Lederer actually began his concentrated word-watching while a premed student at Haverford College. "I played a lot of word games with classmates," he says. "One idea was to come up with rhyming course names, such as 'Brit Lit Crit' for British Literary Criticism." Changing career plans a couple of times, Lederer entered Harvard Law School, then switched to the university's graduate school of education. Finally, in 1962, he took a teaching post at St. Paul's. A father of three (one grown son is a professional poker player), he was divorced two years ago and now lives alone in a roomy white 19th-century frame house within walking distance of the campus.
Outside the classroom, Lederer hosts a weekly show on New Hampshire public radio and writes a column titled "Looking at Language" for eight small New England newspapers. The column deals with topics such as whether there is a singular for Wheaties (yes, Wheatie, Lederer concludes) and where phrases like "kick the bucket" originated (possibly with the inverted bucket on which a would-be hanging victim stands—and which his swinging feet later kick). Not content with airwaves and the press alone to spread his word, Lederer also makes about 70 speeches a year to church, library and civic groups. With Anguished English now in its fifth printing, he may soon be busier still. A new book titled Get Thee to a Punnery is due this month, and Lederer has been asking his readers and listeners to send him examples of fractured prose for future volumes of Anguished. "I want to inform as many people as I can," he says. "Suddenly, with the book, my classroom has become a lot bigger. One might speak of it as a tiny language empire—if that's not too oxymoronic."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!