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Book Reviews
Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics
By: Gareth Carroll - Iff Books, $17.95

Description: Gareth Carrol presents a collection of modern idioms, which have become a part of our vocabulary in the past 50 years or so.

In most cases, idioms such as raining cats and dogs, that color our everyday communication, are deeply rooted in culture and history. However, just like words, new idioms emerge in language, and many have entered our vocabulary through, TV, movies and the internet.

These modern idioms can be dated very precisely thus Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics finds the origins of these idioms and charts their development.

Verdict: Written upon the back of the spark of an idea back when Carroll had begun working at the University of Birmingham in 2016, Jumping Sharks and Dropping Mics: Modern Idioms and Where They Come From is a short, yet compressively written fact-finding mission on where these now taken-for-granted idioms (no matter how ludicrous they sound when spoken aloud) came from and how they have taken on life ever since.

As for the one most prominently at hand, as I think we all know by now, the idiom jumping the shark was coined in 1985 by Jon Hein in response to a 1977 episode from the fifth season of the American sitcom Happy Days, in which Fonzie (Henry Winkler) quite literally jumps over a shark while on water-skis!

Having gathered so many more of these over the years - such as Nudge nudge, wink wink, The 64,000 dollar question, Starter for ten, All singing, all dancing, Bunny boiler, Know where the bodies are buried, and both Break the internet and Drink the Kool-Aid, amongst a whole slew of others - this book fills in all those blanks in our heads about their origins, whilst at the very same time giving us fuel for a quiz night of our own!

My own personal favorite here is: Trigger’s Broom = Something that is claimed to be the same despite extensive modifications, which one might assume was wholly based off the hit UK comedy TV show Only Fools & Horses (1981-2003), but has a much deeper reasoning for being.

You see, Trigger’s Broom is actually a modernization of a philosophical thought experiment, most commonly referred to as the ship of Theseus. I won’t go into the entire mythological explanation, but suffice to say that it shines a whole new light on that particular OFAH episode, trust me!

About the Author - Gareth Carrol is a lecturer in linguistics at the University of Birmingham. His work looks at how people use and understand figurative language, including idioms, metaphor and other non-literal forms of expression. He has written articles on these topics for a range of publications. He lives in Birmingham with his wife and cat.

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