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The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language Hardcover – 1 Nov 2012


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The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language + The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language + The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (1 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848314159
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848314153
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Simon says on 27 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover
After really enjoying 'The Etymologicon' last year, I had great expectations of Mark Forsyth's new book and thankfully it didn't disappoint. 'The Horologicon' is the same but different: crucially, the dry, clever wit present in the previous book is still there and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the new one is also about words. However, it's the nature of these words that marks the book out as being different, and even more worthwhile, than the first. Whereas The Etymologicon dealt with everyday words and phrases - a much travelled path in the world of books although never previously with such an entertaining guide - 'The Horologicon' is all about forgotten words, ones with their own peculiar and distinct meaning and flavour. To make the trip through this language that time forgot as enjoyable as possible, the author sets up his tour brilliantly by following day in the life of you, me and he himself. What felt like everyday commonplace is made all the richer for it. I only hope I'm not guilty of 'ultracrepidarianism'! But you can be the judge of that.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Petra Bryce VINE VOICE on 27 Nov 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First of all, I have to admit that I went against the author's recommendation and read this book from cover to cover; alas, at least so far, I have not suffered from any ill-effects. A warning to any prospective readers though: while reading this, what Mark Forsyth calls a serious "reference work", I was rather prone to reading out random passages to my unsuspecting husband who had no choice but to listen. Please bear that in mind before you decide to buy the book.

As the front cover tells us, this is "A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language", starting at 6 a.m. and ending at midnight. Each chapter, comprising of one hour, deals with one major activity particular to that time of day, such as Waking and Washing, Dressing and Breakfast, and Commute. In his preambulation, the author hopes that this book will be used as a reverse dictionary: rather than asking "What does xyz mean?", he encourages the reader to ask "What's the word?" for a particular activity, then check the time and find the answer in this handy reference book, such as: "I really don't feel like going in to work today, I have to call up my boss to feign sickness", for which the word is egrote. The fact that my laptop's inbuilt spellchecker has just flagged it up just shows you how forgotten and obscure these words have (unfortunately) become. So your boss will not have the faintest idea that what you're really doing is whindling because you're suffering from a hum durgeon. The author's whimsical and easy-going conversational style of writing rather masks his eloquence and hard work that has obviously gone into this book, and it is easy to tell that it is a true labour of love, peppered as it is with such lovely alliterations such as herbaceous hedonism and linguistic lowlands.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Rosey Lea TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Nov 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I adored The Etymologicon (the Radio 4 CD version was so gripping I found myself sitting in the car and refusing to get out until I'd heard to the end of the current item), but for me this is a weak successor.

It's a compendium of little known words presented as for use at different times of day. So breakfast words for the morning, nightclub words for the evening. So you can laugh about how telling a modern woman she's a 'bellibone' probably won't please her as it would her ancestors, but that's pretty much it.

That's not to say there aren't some fabulous Etymologicon style snippets in here, and some items really are laugh out loud, but it's just a bit charmless compared to it's earlier partner.

I'll also admit I was quite peeved by the author's confession (on page 248) that he made up one of the words in the book, but won't say which one. It could be the one you shared with people around you, the one you most remembered, the one that made you laugh. Who knows? But not saying which one was the lie renders every word in the book a possible fiction, so why bother reading it?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whilst this book does indeed contain a feast of fine words to absorb into ones mental thesaurus it fails to read in the same highly entertaining way that the superb Etymologicon did. In fact, I have set the book down in order to pursue further gratification in other tomes.

A pity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By V. J. Ludlow on 3 Dec 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating insight to 'lost' words. Suitable for all 'word smiths' (such as myself). A useful and informative reference book, to be read and re-read!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. B. Kelly VINE VOICE on 3 Dec 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mark Forsyth began his ascent to fame with the Etymologicon, in which he explored the history of words, not in anything so dull as alphabetic order but following a circular route from 'a turn up for the books' and letting each subject lead him to the next.

In The Horologicon, he turns his attention to words that have been lost from the English language and does so by following a person's day, finding him lying abed just before dawn worrying (uhtceare) and leaving him many hours later in his 'consopiation', or lying down ready for sleep. The chances of reviving any of his words seem slim, even when it is very useful to have a single word to cover what needs a whole phrase in modern English, but Forsyth's wit is such that the journey itself is worth the cab fare. Some words are a little dubious -- uhtceare appears only once in Anglo-Saxon texts so was clearly not in widespread use-- but who cares when it's such a joy to roll in your mouth. Did you sleep well? Yes, until 4am when I had a bout of uhtceare. Try telling that one to your doctor.
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