"The Funny Dictionary, by Troy Simpson, is a most worthy addition to the genre of faulty and funny use of English by innocent and most unwitting humorists, something in the vein of his earlier book, Funny English: Errors and Insights (2010).
This is a rich book. Right from the start (in the Preface), we are given useful distinctions between types of 'howlers'. Immediately there is a feeling of authenticity and genuineness.
There is a mixture of hilarity and scholarship, as in his earlier book, Funny English: Errors and Insights. One feels that there is a great deal of research behind what looks at first glance like a mere collection of errors that make us laugh.
But as one reads on, with the Preface in mind, one knows that this collection is never malicious, but funny, challenging, and informative.
Simpson manages to generate a subliminal feeling of sympathy for the people producing these gems.
He points out in the Preface: No attempt is made at explaining the definitions. You will have more fun if you can work out the humour for yourself. (If you can!). ...
One could even reflect on the nasty nature on the exam system. Why would any student write such a definition as
SPAGHETTI n. thrown on people at weddings (which, by the way, creates a beautiful picture in this reader's mind), unless experiencing a moment of panic?
WEIGHT n. 1. the weight that a thing weighs. 2. the pull of gratitude on an object. 3. the same thing as mass but not exactly quite the same thing. They really mean the same thing. (Which suggests trying to simplify a concept, but with a feeling of panic, probably in a physics exam)?
And, of course, there is the philosophical exploration of meanings, or even unintended social commentary, as in the following definition:
SAVAGES n. people who don't know what wrong is until missionaries show them.
There is a strong feeling of logic, even understanding of the fact that words are usually derived from somewhere, in this one:
PARALLELEPIPED n. an animal with parallel legs (and yes, it is a word, although not to do with animals).
It is a fascinating exercise trying to understand the thought processes providing the various definitions (if one can get past the humour), so I think one should feel very grateful to Troy Simpson for offering such a challenging and funny book.
Fred McArdle, former teacher and a lover of language.
"I acknowledge Troy's work. This is another excellent contribution. I had a great chuckle. In this work, he has sought to tackle some of the more amusing elements of life at a time when there is often too much seriousness in our public discourse. I think it is terrific to look on the lighter side." Andrew Barr, Chief Minister of the ACT.
"The most side-splitting, gut-busting, knee-slapping fluffs and flubs, goofs and gaffes, and botches, blunders, boo-boos, and bloopers in convenient alphabetical form." Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English (www.verbivore.com).
"In case of the blues, administer this book for an immediate cure. The Funny Dictionary n. hilarity!" Tim Ferguson, author, TV presenter, and comedian.
"Without Troy Simpson's exceptional new book The Funny Dictionary, I don't think I could carry on the deception. Troy has given me my life back. I feel funny again. All is forgiven." Austen Tayshus, Australian Comedy Superstar.
"To those who feel dictionaries are dull and the makers of them drudges, consider Troy Simpson's Funny Dictionary, which will quickly disabuse you of both notions." Robert Hartwell Fiske, editor, The Vocabula Review.
"The Funny Dictionary is a delightful collection of harmless blunders in language, all committed by people who, leaning out as far as they can over the edge of an exam question, fall heavily to the ground. This is a collection of the splatter-marks they left." Julian Burnside AO QC.