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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only a genius with real originality can give his book such a bland title
You will never get inside the heads of people living 4500 years ago by merely practising archaeology or analysing the chemical structure of ancient land-fills. The bodies of the ancients, who raised children, fought and fell in love, have turned to dust and their pyramids are but mocking monoliths on the graveyard of history.

Stones and bones cannot speak and...
Published on 8 Sep 2012 by Halifax Student Account

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not very useful
Owen Barfield's "History in English Words" is something of a disappointment. It's essentially a long-winding exposition on the origins of various English words, usually loan words. I suppose the point is to illustrate the evolution of consciousness, but I don't think Barfield manages to make the tie-in very persuasively or forcefully. The book could be interesting as...
Published 12 months ago by Ashtar Command


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only a genius with real originality can give his book such a bland title, 8 Sep 2012
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This review is from: History in English Words (Paperback)
You will never get inside the heads of people living 4500 years ago by merely practising archaeology or analysing the chemical structure of ancient land-fills. The bodies of the ancients, who raised children, fought and fell in love, have turned to dust and their pyramids are but mocking monoliths on the graveyard of history.

Stones and bones cannot speak and so remain silent, and so too is the analysis of ancient poo. Ancient droppings may well give us the structure of the body, with sufficiently advanced technology; but still, the silence remains as dead as a grave.

The things our ancestors said, that is, their words, are tongues frozen in time and this is how we can get into the minds of our ancestors, so argues Owen Barfield. (The 'tongues' image is my lazy impression of Barfield's utterly fantastic style).

Owen Barfield argues that rocks can't speak, but words can. By looking at words, we can suss the psyche of humans living 6000 years ago! Words evolved over time, changed, and so did human consciousness. Our ancestors were very different from our fellow humans living today. Indeed, words are spirits, or psyches, of long gone human minds who've have been frozen and preserved in time. We can hatch the words out of their frozen-ness, and the ancients can be heard by us moderns. Barfied claims that we can step inside the thoughts of the people living generations ago, this way.

This is what History in English Words is all about. I think the title puts people off and this is why this book is unknown. The title sounds like a dry textbook. The opposite is the case.

What where our ancestors thinking 5000 years ago? Apart from inventing a time machine, this book provides a window.

No review on Amazon will ever do this book justice. All I can say is that Owen Barfield can write and no man should be as imaginative and clever as this guy.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not very useful, 16 Sep 2013
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This review is from: History in English Words (Paperback)
Owen Barfield's "History in English Words" is something of a disappointment. It's essentially a long-winding exposition on the origins of various English words, usually loan words. I suppose the point is to illustrate the evolution of consciousness, but I don't think Barfield manages to make the tie-in very persuasively or forcefully. The book could be interesting as philology 101, but it's hardly even Barfield 101!
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History in English Words
History in English Words by Owen Barfield (Paperback - 4 April 1998)
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