Audience: Those who love the meaning and origins of words.
Summed up in one word: There isn't just one word for this book...there are lots...
Author Bio: Mark Forsyth is a writer, journalist, proofreader, ghost writer and pendant. After starting his Inky Fool blog, he continued that work into The Horologicon. MF loves etymology and he is a gifted wordsmith!
First Impression: I am so happy when I come across books like this. Books that talk about words, books, bookshops or any other interesting subject surrounding the written word are very special to me and this does not disappoint. Mark Forsyth has written 4 books, of which 3 sit on my shelf as I can't get enough of his way with words. This is sort of a serious read, but with all the wit, humour and great words, this book is a blast.
Summary: The Tagline for this book is:
'A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language'
Mark Forsyth maps out our day from waking up at 6am to going to bed at 12am (possibly drunk). With this time-frame MF unveils lots of lost words and phrases of the items/activities/actions we experience everyday. From Aztec to Medieval. From Victorian to the Second World War. These words have lost their places in our modern society, but that does not make them incredibly interesting and worth knowing. Even if it is just to spice up everyday conversation or to confuse/annoy colleagues and loved ones with ancient insults that have amazing and rich history in past cultures.
This book begins when we open our eyes in the morning, woken up by one of the various 'expergefactors' that occur in the start of the day. We get ready for work, 'Jenticulate', usually with 'cackling farts'. Once we get to work and avoid all the 'ultracrepidarians', we can ignore the 'Mugwump' and get on with avoiding doing any work. After the visit to the 'fumatorium' and doing as much 'quomodocunquizing' as possible, you the faint sound of 'borborygmi' and off to lunch you go. These are the sort of scenarios and words that you will experience inside 'The Horologicon'. Grab yourself a copy, learn some great old words and have a lot of fun doing so!
Content: As far as content goes, this book has it all. Relevant, important and interesting information, set out in a recognisable and easy going format. Most importantly, this is content that everyone can relate to. As the reader I was amazed, amused and astounded by these words and phrases, their origins and context were just as satisfying and entertaining. (Some origins were sad, horrific or just plain uncool, but they are very scarce.)
Author Style: Mark Forsyth lives and breathes the world of etymology. It shows in The Horologicon. The whole time the reader spends with this book, they can sense that MF not only knows his stuff but he has a great time talking about it. The fact that the author is a having a good time while he writes makes this book special. MF's choice to use the outline of a typical day was a great choice and he uses it to good effect. I found that the humour he adds to his writing is the best part of the book, he is funny, witty and he writes great jokes.
Accomplishments: This book accomplishes plenty. It teaches fun, old and amusing words to those who want to learn more about them. MF uses context, origins and jokes to make words interesting to people. MF also highlights plenty of actions we perform or items we interact with throughout our day and shines a light on them, explaining the terminology and history of each of the things we usually perform or experience without thinking much about them. For example Pandiculation - The stretching of the arms and body in the morning.
Pros: Smart, funny writing. Plenty to learn. Quality writing and decent format.
Cons: Not enough....? I had to keep stopping to write these words down :). There is not much wrong with this piece. I have not got the knowledge or the time to go through and fact check this book, so there is the possibility of misinformation.
Extras: MF's other books look just as interesting and I will add the reviews when I have finished them. I will just jot down some words from The Horologicon here to give you an idea of the content you can enjoy inside:
Plutomania - Frenzied pursuit of money. Nephelolater - One who enjoys passing clouds Borborygmi - The rumbling noises produced by an empty stomach Eructation - Belching Latibulaters - People who hide in corners Oniomania - Compulsion to buy things Perendinate - Put off until the day after tomorrow Interjaculate - Throw in between Deipnophobia - Dread of dinner parties Apodysophilia - A feverish desire to undress
Rating: As a book and word loving fellow, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. I do really enjoy any books on words, books, libraries, book festivals, book history and reading, so maybe I am slightly biased. Never the less, read this, enjoy it and use its words in everyday conversation just for the fun of it.
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.
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 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. It made me chuckle and even laugh out loud on numerous occasions because I could transfer what I read so easily to myself or recognise it in my husband. It is obvious that Mark Forsyth possesses a rather impish sense of mischief which is most easily recognisable when he talks about the cleverly disguised insults that could be hurled at any person of disfavour and without them being any the wiser; these, along with some fascinating etymological snippets, are some of the best bits in my opinion. This is an absolute treasure trove of obscure and forgotten words that deserve to be brought back to light and into the current dictionaries. I say we start a campaign to resurrect a word from each chapter; wouldn't that be a linguistic achievement to find that bellibone has now had its first documented use since 1586? Who's with me?
I haven't read anything else by Mark Forsyth and wasn't sure what to expect. Certainly wasn't expecting this wonderful mix of fun and fact. Full credit has to go to Forsyth if only for the amount of work that went into researching The Horologicon. Firstly; this isn't a book you'd necessarily want to sit down and read from cover to cover in one sitting. The Horologicon is more a book you dip in and out off for fun, or inspiration, unless you're a English language buff or a quiz master. Written in the form of a book of hours, the chapters are broken up into time slices:-
Chapter 1:- 6 am - Dawn Chapter 2: 7 am - Waking and Washing Continuing through until Midnight.
Each time slice contains a selection of extraordinary words relative to their own particular time of day. You might not think you'll ever use words like these but; once you've read the book I'll bet you're soon dropping them into the conversation. It's impossible not to do it once you've become "infected". My favourite is "quidnunc" - you'll have to read the book. I know a great many of them!.
Of course, The Horologican isn't simply a list of words or the usual Dictionary. Each word is accompanied by a wealth of information explaining it's origin, type, history and, even more importantly, where it should sit in a sentence so you sound as though you know what you're talking about!.
If you're writing a speech, hosting a quiz, interested in the English language or just want a laugh then you'll get a great deal of fun out of The Horologicon.
Are you looking for that wonderful gift to present to the individual in your life who appears to have swallowed a lexicon with their mornings repast, and have you been a bit tardy in getting said article? Well fret not here is an awesome nay, Brobdingnagian offering that could easily engender feelings of exuberance and even adoration from said recipient!
In his preambulation Mark Forsyth states that this book is for those words that are..
"To beautiful to live long, too amusing to be taken seriously, too precise to become common, too vulgar to survive in polite company, or too poetic to thrive in this age of prose."
He goes on to say that these words languish away in old and arenaceous dictionaries, that these are the lost words and the great secrets of civilisations that can still be of use today.
What sets this marvellous read apart from your standard lexicon is the method of recording used does not follow the A - Z format. In fact the writer states that by having words arranged alphabetically within a dictionary you render them useless as they bear no relation to their neighbouring words and are estranged from those words they share a relationship with (for example in the Oxford English Dictionary, wine and corkscrew are separated by seventeen volumes). This led the author after hours of rumination and a degree of puttering to fix upon the idea of using the medieval book of hours as his solution to this dilemma, in the process reinventing the reference book for the modern world and it's constant haste. With this method all one needs to do is to check the time of day via whatever clepsydra you prefer and then by referring to the correct page within this publication - suitable words should avail themselves for your use and the delectation of all within earshot.
The Horologicon (or book of hours) is the partner to last years The Etymologicon, and like that wonderful book, uses Mark's Inky Fool blog, as it's reference point. Where as the previous work, threaded us through the strange connection that exist between words, The Horologicon, is literally a book of hours, charting the period from just before the moment day-raw streaks red across the sky and guiding us through the day and eventide up until Bulls-noon, where we, having wished bene darkmans to our loved ones, will hopefully be ensconced in our dreamery, asleep in those arms of Morpheus.
This was a BBC radio 4 book of the week (read by Hugh Dennis) and was described as:
"The Horologicon (or book of hours) gives you the most extraordinary words in the English language, arranged according to the hour of the day when you really need them. Do you wake up feeling rough? Then you're philogrobolized. Pretending to work? That's fudgelling, which may lead to rizzling if you feel sleepy after lunch, though by dinner time you will have become a sparkling deipnosophist. From Mark Forsyth, author of the bestselling The Etymologicon, this is a book of weird words for familiar situations. From ante-jentacular to snudge by way of quafftide and wamblecropt, at last you can say, with utter accuracy, exactly what you mean."
"This is a reference work. You should on no account attempt to read it cover to cover. If you do, Hell itself will have no horrors for you, and neither the author nor his parent company will accept liability for any suicides, rampages, or crazed nudity that may result." Mark Forsyth.
The Author describes it thus "A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language", starting at 6 a.m. and ending at midnight.
Well yes but it has each chapter dealing with just one hour throughout the day. So it concentrates on the words we associate with that time of the day so waking up then washing and dressing ourselves then our breakfast and travel to work etc.
The author recommends that you do not read it in all one go but rather read it at the time of day you happen to be in.
He is right of course and I really suspect that is the way to get the full advantage out of this entertaining book.
Like many others I have deposited mine in the smallest room in the house. To some this is strange- to others this is perfectly understandable- each to their own.
I must admit I am enjoying reading it this way rather than in a whole chunk. Simply put it is too dense to take in all at one-( if you pardon the expression for where I do my reading of it)- in one sitting!!
The reading age is quite mature so this is not a book for children in the way that those plethora of books you see with titles like `Can a bear run down hill? And `How to fossilize your Hamster and the like.
So it's a present for an adult that enjoys words and reading and possibly the times cryptic crossword!
I'm writing this review under obnubilating skies. I should be elsewhere but as I suffer from deipnophobia, I'd be in an anthypophoria state snudging along, I decided to do this instead. (I have a feeling Microsoft's word processor dictionary is going to work overtime here.)
Mark Forsyth's follow-up to his successful book on etymology delves into words of the English language that are now lost and forgotten. Not the usual tedious list of words with their meanings, this is an easy to follow guide in that it begins at dawn when you're deciding whether to get up (uhtceare), travelling to work (besage sounds best - having your bed carried on the back of four horses); working, going home, chatting up the ladies (sprunt and bellibone stand out in that chapter); stumbling home alone, and finally going to bed.
Mind you, if you use some words in here in their literal sense you might end up in a spot of bother. Best not to grab the boul, summon your thermopotes and ask if anyone wants some bitch. I guess most words in this book merely fell out of favour as newer, simpler - but not necessarily better - words took their place, though it's easy to understand why `feague' is no longer is use, though I'm assuming it`s no longer uttered. There is also a page involving the printed medias confusion with pixilated and pixelated, which will have you poring over a newspaper in an attempt to find such an error but why the author found fit to include a list of Benjamin Franklin's synonyms for being drunk isn't explained.
Whilst it may be set out in a way that anyone can reference without difficulty, certain parts of it get annoying after a while; that of Forsyth trying to be amusing, viz. "Chariot buzzers are pickpockets...but as the term is Victorian, you ought to be able to recognise them by their antiquated attire". I realise this is a fun book but it would have been better without the attempts at being funny. Chuckle worthy it's not. Interesting? It has its moments.
If bygone words such as `pimginnit', `snilcher', `arseling pole' (no, it's not rude), 'swullocking' (nor is that), `quidnunc', `gongoozle', and the ever popular `snollygoster' whet your appetite, you won't go wrong with this. Barry Gibb once sang, "It's only words, and words are all I have", so drop a few of them into a conversation and you'll have everyone else intrigued.