BOOKS (with Alexander Humez):
Latin for People/Latina pro Populo (Little, Brown: 1976). Arguably the first post-Chomskian Latin grammar for grownups, this is a book for people who either never took Latin in school and now wished they had, or else took it, forgot most of it, and now wish they hadn’t. “Where was this book when I was in High School?” rhetorically asked a reader from Baltimore. “Splendid handbook...with pedagogic efficiency and good humor,” said The Common Reader. Well, why shouldn’t the exercises for translation include a few classic shaggy dog stories: Ursus in tabernam introiit et cerevisiam imperavit.... (“A bear went into a bar and ordered a beer....”) So much for anyone who thought it was a “dead” language. —Available for $13.95 from this link to Amazon.com.
Alpha to Omega: The Life and Times of the Greek Alphabet (Godine:1981). The organizing principle is a chapter for each letter of the Greek alphabet; the contents are the words we got from the Greeks whose originals began with that letter. The end result is a crash course in everything you ever needed to know about classical Hellenic culture, and then some. Don’t try to read it at one sitting! “A kind of thinking man’s “Book of Lists”... peppered with piquant trivia,” wrote Erich (Love Story) Segal in the New York Times Book Review. —Presently available at a 32% discount (=$11.53) at this Amazon.com link.
A B C Et Cetera: The Life and Times of the Roman Alphabet (Godine: 1985). Does for the Romans and their etymons and culture what our Alpha to Omega did for the Greeks. Amanda Heller’s Boston Globe review declared that “We have the Romans to thank for our law, our government, and our language, and Alexander and Nicholas Humez write about this legacy with such charm and easy erudition that they actually make us grateful for it. Whether expounding on mythical beasts, Etruscan pronunciation or classical verse in quest- ionable taste, these authors provide the amateur philologist with a bas- ketful of goodies...from odd angles, without pomposity or solemnity.” —This link to Amazon.com offers the book at $15.95.
On the Dot: The Speck That Changed the World (Oxford, 2008). This long-awaited millennial Humez Bros. collaboration talks about how the smallest written mark we make has a plethora of uses from full stop to delimiter to code sign to decimal marker and even component of other punctuation. The endnotes are a whole book’s worth of edification and amusement by themselves. Presently available in hardcover only at $24.95, but OUP also intends to publish a softcover edition in the not too distant future, so watch this space.
Short Cuts: A Guide to Oaths, Ring Tones, Ransom Notes, Fam- ous last Words, & Other Forms of Minimalist Communication (Oxford, 2010). The Humez Bros. are joined by Rob Flynn in this exploration of the abbreviated ways in which we share information in a busy world. Texting, skywriting, epitaphs, icons, classified ads, answering machine messages, vanity plates, gimme caps, calling cards, and even spurious dictionary definitions get a nod here; as a bonus, additional aspects of (and afterthoughts about) this subject are examined at our Short Cuts blog, viabrevis.wordpress.com.