Guest post: author @pohasselgren on Body Language -From Head to Toe


I recently published a book, “Body Language - from Head to Toe”, that combines my interest of American idioms, slang, and other expressions with my understanding, as a surgeon, of the importance of anatomy.

“Body language” usually refers to feelings, emotions, and intentions expressed by various forms of nonverbal communication, including positioning the body or parts of the body in different ways, gestures, eye movements, and facial expressions. For example, a smile indicates that one is happy or pleased, a frown that one is worried or angry, etc.

In contrast, body language in the book “Body Language - from Head to Toe” refers to the use of body parts (anatomy) in the spoken or written language. Such words occur in many idioms, slang, and other expressions, and the book is a collection of them.

The book was written for three main reasons. First, anatomy matters, particularly in surgery. When I have medical students and residents scrubbed in during cases in the operating room, there are many opportunities to demonstrate and discuss anatomy. I often make the point that “anatomy matters” and usually also (jokingly) add, “You even need to know your anatomy to be able to speak and understand your language properly.” What I am referring to then is the large number idioms, slang, and other expressions that are directly related to human organs and tissues. Indeed, the number of idioms and expressions related to body parts is quite extensive.

Second, as someone moving to this country from another part of the world with a different language, I have been very interested in the peculiarities of the American language. Idioms, slang, and other expressions are specific for any given language and quite often cannot be directly translated. Such expressions are typically not part of the English that is taught in school as a foreign language, and it takes living for some time in a new country before one starts to appreciate (and understand) those special expressions. During the more than thirty years that I have lived in the U.S., my interest in American idioms and other expressions has continued to grow. This book contains a collection of idioms, slang, and other expressions that are specifically related to human body parts. Although the interest in body language in part reflects my profession as a surgeon, it also reflects my interest in the American language.

Third, the use of body part-related expressions is both interesting and fun. When one starts thinking about it, it soon becomes obvious that one uses or hears such expressions hundreds of times every day. The book “Body Language - from Head to Toe” alone contains more than 2,000 idioms, words, expressions, and quotes related to body language. One can just open a newspaper, listen to the radio, or watch TV to find and hear numerous examples of body language. The use of body language in this context provides interesting information about the origin of many of these expressions.

Hopefully, anybody interested in the English and American language will enjoy this book. Persons with a medical background may also find interest in the book since it “connects” body parts with our language. Anybody who wants a couple of minutes of relaxation every now and then, or who may need some distraction during a vacation or a long flight, may also enjoy flipping through the book and finding some expressions of interest.

Click here to enter the Goodreads giveaway to win a copy

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