Daniel Menaker discusses his new book THE AFRICAN SVELTE: Ingenious Misspellings That Make Surprising Sense.
THE AFRICAN SVELTE playfully catalogues superb blunders foraged from the wilds of everyday English. A specific kind of blunder, in fact, which Menaker calls sveltes.
The title is inspired by his time at The New Yorker, where he happened upon the following mistake: “The zebras were grazing on the African svelte.” Menaker became fascinated by this idea of unintentionally meaningful spelling errors. He began to see that these gaffes – neither typos nor auto-corrects – are sometimes more interesting than their strait-laced counterparts.
In THE AFRICAN SVELTE, Menaker digs beneath the delightful surface of these sveltes to bring his readers a deeper understanding of language. He traces back to the roots of our words, showing his readers that sveltes are not just amusing mistakes but clues to how language really works, and how much fun it can be.