Monday, June 27, 2016

Spring Reading 2016 The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors

Anyone interested in language and all its twists and turns will have a great time reading through this discussion of where different sports metaphors originated. Because of the connection to athletics, it will also appeal to sports fans. Chetwynd has researched sayings from all types of activities, both team endeavors and individual events. He has traced back to the earliest recorded appearances of each idiom and explained what country and sport it can be attributed to. He also tells what writers or medium first popularized it and when it became a part of common parlance.

Everything from baseball to wrestling is listed, with the phrases attributed to each sport listed in alphabetical order. If there is some question or disagreement, then the possibilities are laid out and the merits of each one are explained. Those that cannot be satisfactorily narrowed down to a single starting point are gathered in a final section at the end labeled "Free Agents: Unattached Sports Idioms and Words." 

Something that I especially enjoyed was the author's sense of humor and the way he throws in references to popular culture. Speaking of a baseball player named "Candy" Cummings, he says that "he had a name that was more Willy Wonka than ace pitcher." Discussing the fact that wrestling rings are square, he quips, "You don't have to be a J.R.R. Tolkien expert to know that a ring is supposed to be circular." But my favorite reference has got to be during his explanation about how rounding the bases in a baseball game has come to mean scoring in a romantic sense. He says, "rounding the metaphorical bases reached iconic standing when Meatloaf used it in his 1977 rock anthem "Paradise by the Dashboard Light.""

The phrases that are included in the book range from Monday morning quarterback to wild-goose chase. Some things that you might think logically came from one sport, you learn actually came from something completely different. And some phrases come from the most unexpected places. Not just the humor, or the cool references, but the surprises will keep you turning the pages just so you can see what else there is to discover.

This would make a great gift or be handy to have around as a conversation starter.

You can find more information about the book and the author.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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