Read “Lederer on Language” every Saturday in the San Diego Union Tribune and on this site.
Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

 

Today marks the sixth-year anniversary of “Lederer on Language” in the Union-Tribune. Thank you, fellow wordaholics, logolepts and verbivores, for your warm reception of my words about words. But when I look up the meaning of warm in the dictionary, I find the definition “not so hot.”

I try hard to be a model columnist. Alas, though, my dictionary defines model as “a small imitation of the original.”

But I’m not an imitation; I am an original and I try to tell the blunt truth about language. When I turn to my dictionary for support, I find that blunt is defined as “not sharp.”

Still, many of my readers tell me that nothing is better than “Lederer on Language.” I’m flattered until I realize that such a statement can mean reading no column at all is preferable to reading “Lederer on Language.”

The President’s Council on Humor Fitness requires me to state that the information and humor served up in this column are certified fast-acting and fat-free. The active ingredients are absolutely pure and contain no artificial sweeteners or preservatives. No animals are ever harmed in the writing of this column.

The only side effects of ingesting the contents of my column are laughter and learning. Each installment is unconditionally guaranteed to supply the recommended weekly dose of chuckles, chortles, cackles, grins, giggles, guffaws and verbal fiber. And “Lederer on Language” is so cool it needs no refrigeration and never expires.

In fact, having fun with words boosts the brain. People who regularly play word games, such as crossword puzzles, have sharper brains that function equivalent to brains 10 years younger, say experts at the UK’s University of Exeter Medical School and King’s College London. In an online trial, participants reported how often they played word games, and researchers assessed their brain function. The results showed that the more often study participants worked word puzzles, the better they performed on tasks that measured attention, reasoning and memory.

I try to stay mentally and physically fit. That’s because I get plenty of exercise racking my brain, wrestling with details, sweating the small stuff, grappling with problems, plowing through paperwork, trotting out proposals, slinging the bull, jumping to conclusions, hopping on the bandwagon, bucking the system, stretching the truth, skating on thin ice, bending the rules, breaking promises, splitting hairs, stirring up trouble, running my mouth, flying off the handle, twisting things around, poking fun, pushing the envelope, pulling rank, jogging my memory, climbing the corporate ladder, twisting someone’s arm, carrying things too far, passing the buck, dodging responsibility, skipping lunch, punching the clock, lifting my eyebrow and exercising my prerogative.

I am careful not to throw my back out trying to keep my nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, hand on the plow, foot on the throttle, ear to the ground and eye on the ball.

Here’s my personal approach to exercise: Almost every day I stride briskly past a fitness center. Just kidding. Actually, I spent about $400 to join a health club this year, but I haven’t lost a pound. Apparently you have to go there.

So I went there. A waist is a terrible thing to mind, so I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down and sweated for an hour. But by the time I got my leotard on, the class was over.

I’ve tried exercise, but I’m allergic to it. My skin flushes, I perspire profusely, I grow short of breath and my heart races. Hey, there’s only a certain number of beats that each heart has. Why would I want to use them up faster by exercising?

Every time I hear the dirty word exercise, I wash my mouth out with chocolate. Every time I feel the urge to exercise, I just lie down until it goes away. Every time I start thinking too much about how I look, I just find a Happy Hour, and by the time I leave, I look just fine.

I do get a lot of exercise acting as a pallbearer for friends who exercise regularly, and I must admit that they look pretty good right up to the end. When it’s my turn to die, I want six Padres players to carry my coffin. That way they can let me down one last time.