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World’s first Word Club to start in Martinborough

February 10, 2014 February 2014 No Comments

ADDAGRAM: The children at Word Man John Ansell’s holiday reading session at the library magically transforming ELEVEN+TWO into TWELVE+ONE.

Are you a word lover or trivia buff aged between 8 and 108? Do you love laughing, learning about, singing and playing with words?

Then I’d like to invite you to a new kind of club. It’s called The Word Club and it’s launching right here in Martinborough at the Lions Den in Oxford Street on Tuesday 18 February at 7.30pm.

My dream is that one day Word Clubs will litter the landscape like Toastmasters and Lions Clubs. Allow me to introduce myself.

I’m John (AKA The Word Man) and I’m a wordaholic: ad writer, silly poet, dodgy singer, quirky quizzer, and after-dinner speaker on the use, abuse, origins and absurdity of the world’s craziest language.

The Word Club is an excuse to have fun with, and be more conscious of, the invention of mankind we use most often. Not just because you make about 10,000 word choices a day and it may pay to know where they’ve been, but because each word has a history and most of them are fascinating, and some hilarious.

You might not think the word tragedy would be in the latter category. But you’d be wrong. Tragedy – from tragos oidos in Greek, means ‘goat song’. Tell you why at The Word Club!

The word bankrupt comes to us from German, from the Italian banca rotta, meaning ‘broken bench’ (banca – bench, rotta – broken, from the same Latin word as rupture and erupt). So far so foggy. But…
All becomes clear when we learn that the Italians invented banking. A banker would lend out his loot from a bench in the town square, and when he ran out of money, his creditors would break his bench. (This was centuries before the mafia refined the technique and started breaking kneecaps.)

These are the kinds of fascinating factoids that will be peppering our Word Club evenings. But if you think I’m going to let you suffer a series of turgid academic lectures, think again. My own threshold of boredom is much too low to allow that. We’ll have guest musicians, poets, comics, linguists, translators – anyone who can enthuse and amuse us about some aspect of working or playing with words.
We might have a good laugh at Monty Python’s Kamikaze Scotsmen sketch, followed by a little bit of learning about what the word kamikaze is doing in English.
Get the picture? We’ll discuss topical word issues (such as the latest stuff-ups from the stuff website – Netherland’s being the most outrageous of late), play word games, crusade for clarity, and enjoy a drop of the local tipple.

Will The Word Club work? You’ll decide. Do come along to the Lions Den (thanks president Graham and his team) at 7.30pm on Tuesday 18 February for the launch. There’ll be no up-front charge, but I’ll put a hat at the back for donations if you’ve enjoyed yourself.

If you’d like to discuss The Word Club or indicate your interest, do give me a call on 021 428 837 or email john@johnansell.co.nz.

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