Reviewed by: Kemble Elliott, deputy principal, Crawford Preparatory Fourways
Source: Books & Leisure magazine
Author: Michael Quinion
ISBN 13: 9780198610625
As a lover of words and their origins, I found this offering fascinating, Although it is not the kind of book one reads from cover to cover, it is an addictive ‘daily fix’. It is fascinating to realize that the word ‘curfew’ comes from a time when the embers of the fire were allowed to die down and were then covered with a ‘couvre-feu’ (French for ‘cover-fire’) which was eventually Anglicised to ‘curfew’. It was time to come home, and go to bed, when the fire was covered!
If you find words fascinating, find out about ‘rosolio’, ‘loggets’, ’flummery’, billycock’ ‘orpharion’ and take a look into how language reflects the advances of the world. Why do we still ‘hang up’ when the old ‘mouthpiece-earpiece’ telephone hasn’t been around for a century? Why do we still ‘dial’ a number on a push button phone? How did the word ‘bugle’ originally name a kind of horned animals? This is the kind of book that will grace the shelves of word lovers, editors and dictionary addicts, to say nothing of those who have a thirst for absolutely fascinating pieces of useless information. Balderdash anyone?