Does anyone know the meaning of “ping-pong diplomacy” or the origin of the “Stockholm syndrome”? In case many of the history lessons from high school have been erased from your hard drive, fear not: you don’t have to go back to school. There are good books for refreshing your memory. Every American that would like to fart every once in a while in an intellectual conversation now can read the wonderful book ‘I love it when you talk retro.’
Europeans with an advanced knowledge of English can also enjoy it. Retro terms are many anticipated words and expressions whose origin is often forgotten. These terms remain in the collective memory but few people know where they came from. They are verbal fossils that sit anchored in (American)-English conversation. For some readers (for whom English is their native language) the author gives perhaps a little too much elementary knowledge.
A handful of examples: pink elephant; Casanova; bimbo; Jack the Ripper, man-bites-dog, tabloid, gonzo journalism, Stepford Wives, Dr. Strangelove, Rambo, Kodak moments, 64000 dollar question (here, the ham question), butterfly effect.
This is no bite-catch-finished book. Nor is it a glance at fashionable words. Much of what’s understood is also known by us. Author Ralph Keyes takes us on an intriguing and enlightening journey through the phenomenon called “retrotalk.” Recommended for word freaks.
TRANSLATED FROM THE DUTCH BY JANE BAKER