Thursday 23 April 2015

Review ~ Word Drops by Paul Anthony Jones

...A sprinkling of linguistic curiosities....

Elliot & Thompson
April 2015

I've long been fascinated by the power of words and can remember as a child, in primary school, being completely comfortable in English lessons when we were encouraged to do dictionary practice. Looking up the meaning of words is a still something I do on a regular basis, either by using a well thumbed Oxford English Dictionary, the quick reference facility on my Kindle or by browsing the cornucopia of online dictionary facilities.

So, to be asked to review a book, made up entirely of one thousand linguistic and etymological snippets that form one long interconnected chain, was a complete joy.

Word Drops is a language book which completely fascinates and as one word drops into another, a picture emerges, not just of the colourful and quirky use of language, but also of the unique power of words as they have evolved over time.

'Did you know that the bowl made by cupping your hands together is called a gowpen?

And speaking of bowls, the earliest known reference to bowling in English dates from 1555, when bowling alleys were banned by an Act of Parliament.

And that ties in nicely with the fact that the English called Germans "Alleymen" during the First World War....'

I absolutely loved this book. It's one of those hidden gems which sits quite comfortably on a book shelf until you need a little nugget of knowledge, and then once you dip into it you will be immediately be enthralled, not just by the goodies on offer, but also the way in which the book is presented. And as each fascinating fact drops into another one, very soon, the diversity and richness of language starts to enthral and really, I promise you, once started, you won't be able to stop to reading.

It would be a really special gift for someone, who, like me , loves the beauty of language, or for anyone who simply wants to know more about words which have long been abandoned.

And just to finish , I'll leave you with this snippet...picked at random from the book ...

The word happy in English is used three times more often in English than sad....

Have a happy day.

Paul Anthony Jones

Paul Anthony Jones is best known as a language blogger, He is the author of several books on trivia and languages including The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer, Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons and its sequel, Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire, He contributes regularly to the Huffington Post and Metal Floss as well as writing the Haggard Hawks Blog.

My thanks to Alison Menzies at Elliot & Thompson for my review copy of this book.


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