The Fun and Fascination of Language

​Welcome to Susanna Janssen’s wondrous world of words. In Wordstruck! you’ll find a wealth of entertaining reflections on language full of humor, imagination, and insight.

Anything goes, from the genius of Shakespeare to the unintentional hilarity of linguistic faux pas; from musings on the bilingual brain to the poignant humor of her “Life in Words”; from translations gone riotously bad to English learners tortured by our mother tongue’s inconstant consonants and sudden vowel movements.

In this fun and fascinating look at language and the cultures that create it, you’ll find a new love for metaphor, a fabulous arsenal of fascinating word origins, a surprising cure for earworms, a joyful romp with everyone’s favorite grammar errors, and a way to spot liars by listening to their words.

You’ll learn that color can be a language as foreign as Farsi, and that there are countless words in other languages that don’t exist in English.

You’ll also discover a murder of crows in the tree, a mixed bag of labradoodles by the backyard fence, your friends hanging out in a club called the Ron-Day-Voo, and a late-model Nissan Moco* parked outside. Sacré bleu! Mamma mia! ¡Qué horror!

But you can take cheer that the government’s proposed “nuclear suppository” is not going to be built after all.

Join her in this love affair with the lexicon. Please smile, do laugh, and if you cry, it might be at the very last page.

*Moco in Spanish means “mucus; snot”

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Readers’ praise for Susanna Janssen’s

Wordstruck! The Fun and Fascination of Language

Sixty servings of words, language, and cultures to feed the brain, warm the heart, and tickle the funny bone.

 “A lovefest with language”

“Language isn’t a subject that usually interests me, but I love this book!

“A good teacher is a good entertainer and Susanna Janssen is definitely both.”

“Smart, Witty, Entertaining, Educational, Touching, and just plain Fun…I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

“Each chapter is a compelling story in itself– a great armchair book for everyday linguistic excursions.”

“I want a set for my classroom!”

“From personal anecdotes to Shakespeare’s creations, it’s a page-turner.”

“This book inspired me to want to read.”

“It makes English come alive!”

Wordstruck! is both funny, and profoundly educational.”

“I’m falling in love with words all over again.”

“I think the book should be a required read for English classes. It’s inspiring for those who think they’re not good readers or just don’t like to read.”

“Thank you for your wonderful book Wordstruck! which I read along with my two high school kids. Great material there–the three of us thoroughly enjoyed it!”

Wordstruck! has given me a happy heart so often.”

“I’ve been reading it in absolute delight, giggling my way through.”

“Wordstruck! educates in a way that’s fun and inviting.”

“Yesterday was sad for me, I finished Wordstruck.…I just didn’t want your book to end.”



pg:          Enticements from Wordstruck! The Fun and Fascination of Language   by Susanna Janssen

3              Who is this author’s most formidable opponent in the world of words

8              Why hello and goodbye were once very controversial words

12           What are the seven things Americans do differently than the rest of the world (Metric is only one)

20           Which literary device do we use so often in everyday speech that our language would be flat without it

29           What game builds biceps, brain power, social skills, and longevity through laughter

34           How you can spot a liar through the words they use and the way they deliver them

39           What’s the real reason we’re always short of time and money

45           Who dreamed up collective animal terms like “a murder of crows” and a “congress of baboons”

48-55     Why Shakespeare is a superstar of the English language and how he learned to do the Hokey-Pokey

56           How the most American of words—denim, jeans, and dollar—originated in faraway lands

70           Where you might end up if you go to Italy and ask to dine al fresco

73           How many Arabic words are in the English language and how in the world did that happen

79           How our inconstant consonants and sudden vowel movements drive English learners crazy

84           What are the two most common ways we murder English grammar

93           What’s the most frequent sound in our language and how it makes English impossible to spell

96           Some of the most hilarious malapropisms on record, and others revealed for the first time

100         Which are the most treacherous tiny words in our language

108         How you too can learn to speak Cockney slang

112         How foreign translations into English can leave you baffled, bemirthed, and possibly battered to boot

116         What are the 20 most provocative foreign words that have no English translation

126         How over 100 people have awakened from head trauma into a whole new linguistic life

135         What are the foreign languages colors “speak” around the world

143         What are France, Italy and Spain doing to stem the absorption of English words into their languages

163-179 Why it’s never too late to learn another language and how the brain thrives on it

169         What are London cab drivers and Swedish military recruits doing to grow bigger brains

177         How every one of us is already multilingual with dozens of words

178         Why the four big myths about learning foreign language deserve to be debunked now

188         How terms like Sputnik, Iron Curtain, and nuclear annihilation molded young baby boomers

193         How what adults say and what children hear are often ridiculously unrelated

207         What’s the biggest reason students in language classes fail to become bilingual

218         How to get rid of that earworm that’s been playing in your head for three weeks

248         What you’ll find while driving the most linguistically colorful (but not the prettiest) highway in California

272         What’s the simple five-minute strategy that makes any dream come true, including becoming bilingual!

282         What’s the best month to travel abroad for weird and wild local traditions