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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enormous fun for anyone interested in words., 25 Nov. 2001
By A Customer
This book takes an approach to word origins that I have never come across before. It starts with the historical event - from the Norman Conquest to the invention of the worldwide web - and shows how the event introduced words and phrases into English. Did you know that Anglo-Saxon castles had no dungeons and no belfries? So when the Normans came and built castles with dungeons and belfries, there were no English words for them. And to this day we use the Norman words. And there is the same sort of thing about the invention of the umbrella, the first clock, the first panorama ... it all adds up to the most fascinating dip-into words book I have read in a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars history all around, 27 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
Do not be put off by the matter of fact title- this is a fascinating book on how our history has influenced our vocabulary since the days of the Norman invasion. Whether you decide to dip into it or read it straight through in chronological order, you are bound to go away with lots of great nuggets of information on history and etymology.
The book presents 120 or so important events in British and world history, and then links these to a collection of word histories. Picked at random, it gives the history of the Mapa Mundi at Hereford cathedral and explains how the words map, napkin, nappy and apron are all linked, before going on to show the long drawn out process that changed the Arabic term amir-al-muminim (commander of the faithful) into the English word 'admiral'.
Apart from being a great bedside table/ rush hour train read, explanations such as these can help teachers explain vocabulary and make it memorable to their students, both language learners and native-speakers, and install a love of language for its own sake. Personally, as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language with may years of experience, this book has helped me regain an interest in the subject of my own language.
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The Chronology of Words and Phrases: A Thousand Years in the History of English
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