Puzzles and Words

Puzzles and Words

Calling all word lovers and puzzle nuts – here is a book to tickle your mind and make you see English afresh, from TV's Dictionary Guy David Astle.

If you like what David does on SBS's Letters and Numbers, telling word stories and playing with letters, then Puzzles and Words is your kind of fun.

Known to crossword fans as 'DA', David Astle has built his life around words. 'I solve three or four puzzles a day, I can't help myself. I'm a black-and-white junkie, but unlike most substance reliance's, the cryptic crossword is a drug that keeps on giving".

In his weekly crosswords and columns, David inspires lateral thinking while also exploring the world of slang, jargon, kid-speak and buzzwords. David's puzzles and word games encourage us to challenge our imagination. 'The brain is smarter for leaping sideways", DA explains.

In his new book Puzzles and Words, David fuses all these elements in one pocket-sized volume. Why is Google called Google? What's a moofer or a splog? Puzzles and Words lifts the lid on over 200 astounding word stories and origins, as well as over 170 original puzzles.

More than fun, David promises a brain-bending meander through language and lateral thinking. Quirky, smart, this book is an energy drink for the mind, a tonic for all ages.

As the Dictionary Guy on SBS -Letters and Numbers', and DA in the world of crosswords, David Astle is a full-time word nerd. His mania shines in his weekly Wordplay column in The Sydney Morning Herald, and his cultish blog www.davidastle.com. David lives in Melbourne, Australia. David Astle's Puzzles & Words follows the success of Puzzled (2010)

Puzzles and Words

Allen and Unwin
Author: David Astle
Price: $14.99

Interview with David Astle

Question: What should we expect from Puzzles and Words?

David Astle: Like Snakes on a Plane, or Friends With Kids, the title says it all. The book has 200 strange word stories (like the origin of Zumba, or helicopter parent). And the puzzles connect with the stories, mucking around with meanings or anagrams.

Question: How difficult is it to create puzzles and word games that encourage us to challenge our imagination?

David Astle: In a way my party trick has become my career. I invent puzzles all the time. On the tram, in the shower. Ben Cousins, say, is a mixture of Bounciness, and that provides a spring in my step. Toying around with patterns and ideas is like a Pilates session for the imagination.

Question: What is a moofer?

David Astle: The two boom areas in English are blends (where you splice two words to make something like burqini, or staycation), or the acronym (words made of initials). Think of mamil (middle-aged man in lycra) – sorry unthink mamil! Better to think of moofer – mobile out-of-office worker, the new sort of employee, have tablet will travel.

Question: What are buzzwords?

David Astle: The buzz can be short and loud – like a vuvuzela, and the word vuvuzela. Or it can be lastingly catchy, like YOLO (you only live once), or stamp its way deep into culture, like carbon footprint.

Question: What do you love most about the English language?

David Astle: English resembles a giant sleepover party. Every word is welcome to visit, from every culture, and if we take a shine to our exotic guests – like robot (Czech), or yacht (Dutch), or Jenga (Swahili), then they can stay forever. We are richer for such a wild bunch of friends.

Question: Are you currently working on another title?

David Astle: I am. It's called The Great Clue Chase, a book to mark the 100th birthday of the crossword in 2013. Call me insane, but the Chase is after 100 amazing crosswords across the century. That's 100 mini-chapters along the timeline, a year per chapter. Each chapter tells you the story behind the puzzles I find – a secret message, an eerie coincidence, a death threat, a marriage proposal, a Chinese crossword, the first crossword for blind people. If you have a good crossword story – let me know!


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