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The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language Paperback – 3 Nov 2016
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'This year's must-have stocking filler - the angel on the top of the tree, the satsuma in the sock, the threepenny bit in the plum pudding, the essential addition to the library in the smallest room is Mark Forsyth's 'The Etymologicon'.' -- Ian Sansom * Guardian * 'This witty book liberates etymology from the dusty pages of the dictionary and brings it alive.' -- Good Book Guide 'From Nazis and film buffs to heckling and humble pie, the obscure origins of commonly-used words and phrases are explained.' -- Daily Telegraph `The stocking filler of the season.' -- Robert McCrum, Observer 'A collection of verbal curiosities ... fascinating.' -- Spectator `A perfect bit of stocking filler for the bookish member of the family, or just a cracking all-year-round-read. Highly recommended.' -- Spectator 'Light, entertaining and fascinating ... This is really one of those books where you have to fight hard to resist telling anyone in earshot little snippets every five minutes.' -- Brian Clegg, author of 'Inflight Science' `An absolute gem ... a pleasure to read.' -- Books Monthly `I want this book to be never-ending ... a real winner.' -- Books Monthly `It makes for a very good read ... a perfect Christmas gift for anyone who might be interested in where our words come from.' -- A Common Reader `I adored this book. I read and read and then I read some more until it was all gone. It was just my cup of tea, well presented, engaging, witty, wonderful. Full of usable facts and great anecdotes, it's one of the only `history' books I've read this year that was anything other than dull as dishwater. Full marks.' -- The Bookbag 'Mark Forsyth, who blogs as 'The Inky Fool,' is an extreme and hugely entertaining practitioner.' -- Financial Times 'The subtitle ... 'A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language' ... is a misdescription. It is not a stroll; it is a plunge on a toboggan where the only way to stop is to fall off.' -- Financial Times `Witty and erudite ... stuffed with the kind of arcane information that nobody strictly needs to know, but which is a pleasure to learn nonetheless.' -- Nick Duerden, Independent '[Forsyth] riff[s] very entertainingly on the hidden connections of words (from brackets and codpieces, to cappuccinos and monkeys).' -- Robert McCrum, Guardian 'One of the books of the year. It is too enjoyable for words.' -- Henry Coningsby * Waterstones Watford * ''The Etymologicon' contains fascinating facts' * Daily Mail * 'Kudos should go to Mark Forsyth, author of The Etymologicon - Clearly a man who knows his onions, Mr Forsyth must have worked 19 to the dozen, spotting red herrings and unravelling inkhorn terms, to bestow this boon - a work of the first water, to coin a phrase.' * Daily Telegraph * 'I'm hooked on Forsyth's book - Crikey, but this is addictive' -- Mathew Parris * The Times *
From the Author
Mark Forsyth is a writer, journalist and blogger. Every job he's ever had, whether as a ghost-writer or proof-reader or copy-writer, has been to do with words. He started The Inky Fool blog in 2009 and now writes a post almost every day. The blog has received worldwide attention and enjoys an average of 4,000 hits per week.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top customer reviews
I wouldn't read this book all in one go because there is just so much information to take in. It is best consumed in chunks - at least that was my theory, but I found it almost impossible to put it down because I wanted to see his next link. This did mean that I read large sections and then couldn't really remember how things connected - but I did, very much, enjoy it when reading it.
You are not going to finish by knowing anything at all useful. You also won't know anything in depth - to do that you will have to read something more scholarly. What you do end up with is a very enjoyable read, wallowing in words and meanings and picking up little snippets of information about words, their meaning and their history as you go.
I'm no fan of Michael Jackson (quite the opposite), but describing him as "of indeterminate tan" is not remotely funny & simply tasteless. The grave goods of a tribe of Neolithic people are labelled "tedious", and as for what he has to say about poets... "Wrote X and not much else, thank god!" is fairly typical. So, not much of a fan of poetry then, Mr Author? The cock & bull story he comes up with for the origin of "swing a cat" seems to be made up to allow him to shoe-in (not shoo-in, Mr Author; "shoe", as in "shoe-horn") a bunch of supposed archery terms (Luttrell psalter, Mr Author - no "point blank" there). I'm well aware that the popular explanation that it comes from the naval cat-o-nine tails is probably untrue (the earliest references have nothing to do with the Navy), but I'm also a philologist, amateur historian, re-enactor and longbowman. I've never heard the cobblers you came up with & it also sounds physically implausible.
Did you invent a cod-etymology as a convenient link (another weakness in the book - the oft-contrived attempt to link one section to the next; it just makes things messy & un-coherent)? That would be rank hypocrisy from someone who takes pleasure in deriding the (rightly deridable) Ship High In Transit (except your version is Store...) and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (never trust an acronym if the word is older than the 20thC!). There is the occasional gem, such as the passage about the significance of "Nazi", but this is mostly not very good.
If you want a reasonable explanation of where "swing a cat" comes from, google it & pick up Michael Quinion's version. It's rather better worded than the one here. And if you want a book about words... Pick up something by Michael Quinion. This bloke isn't worth the money,
I personally love the style, the way each subject interconnects with the next, it suits me very well. Even if there are no sources or references, I'm not reading it for research, I'm reading it for pleasure, and for that function it does not disappoint.
I would certainly recommend this book. I'm now going to look for other books by this author, and order a copy for my Dad for Christmas.