Monday 23 October 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities - Paul Anthony Jones

I love quirky books so I am delighted to take part in the blog tour for The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities.  This book could not be named any better, it is a veritable Aladdin's Cave of lost words and fascinating historical events.  Not only is it written by an author local to me, it led to my discovery of his brilliant @HaggardHawks Twitter account for more wordy-frivolity.

I am sharing my review for the blog tour but also an excerpt so you can see how each day is set out.  To save quarrelling with myself over what word to share for the tour (there are so many that stand out), I am sharing the word of today: 23rd October.

A whole year's worth of linguistic curiosities, just waiting to be discovered.

Within these pages you might leap back in time, learn about linguistic trivia, follow a curious thread or wonder at the web of connections in the English language.

1 January quaaltagh (n.) the first person you meet on New Year's Day

1 April dorbellist (n.) a fool, a dull-witted dolt

12 May word-grubber (n.) someone who uses obscure or difficult words in everyday conversation

25 September theic (adj.) an excessive drinker of tea

24 December doniferous (adj.) carrying a gift

Paul Anthony Jones has unearthed a wealth of strange and forgotten words: illuminating some aspect of the day, or simply telling a cracking good yarn, each reveals a story. Written with a light touch that belies the depth of research it contains, this is both a fascinating compendium of etymology and a captivating historical miscellany. Dip into this beautiful book to be delighted and intrigued throughout the year.

What did I think?

When I first opened The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities, I thought it might feel like reading a dictionary or an encyclopedia but even though there is so much to take in, I just couldn't get enough of it.  I read it as if a month was a chapter, but I also found myself flicking forward each day to see what the word of the day was and what fascinating little-known historical event I could regale my family and friends with.  

It is a treasure trove of interesting words and historical information and how the author links history to the word of the day is nothing short of brilliant.  It's a word of the day, a history lesson, and a fascinating fact book that would be the PERFECT gift for that person who is so difficult to buy for.  I've always preferred real books to kindle, but I really do think you would benefit from a hardback edition of this book.  It's a book you will always have to hand, whether you refer to it every day or bring it out when friends come round.  

I can see my copy of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities being a firm fixture in my bookcase.  Actually, it will probably be as much out of the bookcase as in it, as I can't foresee a day going by when I won't open this fascinating book.  In years to come I may have to rein in my bookish-OCD and see a dog-eared copy as a much loved, much handled book rather than a mistreated book.  There's sure to be a word for such a well-used book so I'd better keep my eye on Haggard Hawks!

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities is an awe-inspiring collection of trivia and fascinating facts for linguists, history lovers or anyone who loves the unusual and peculiar.  Definitely one I recommend and this is one book I will not be lending to anyone as I couldn't bear not to have it close to hand.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

An excerpt from 23rd October:

thrimmel (n.)  to grudgingly repay a debt

Upon its independence in 1776, the United States was already in debt, and in 1789 that situation worsened when America assumed liability for $75 million of debts accumulated during the Revolutionary War. Concerted efforts brought that figure down to its lowest in history – $37,000 – by the mid 1830s, but spending on the military sent it spiralling back to the $1 bil- lion mark by the time of the Civil War. By the mid 1970s, debts had reached $500 billion, and on 23 October 1981, it was announced that the national debt of the United States had surpassed the $1 trillion mark for the very first time; half of that figure had been accumulated in just seven years. 

To repay a debt – and, specifically, to do so reluctantly – is to thrimble or thrumble, an English dialect word dating back to the mid sixteenth century. Thought to be derived from an earlier word, thrum, for a multitude or throng of people, on its earliest appearance in the language thrimble meant ‘to squeeze or press together’, like people standing in a dense crowd, or ‘to jostle’ or ‘to push your way through’. 

By the early seventeenth century, that meaning had broad- ened (perhaps with influence from the word thumb) to come to mean ‘to press or crush between the fingers’, and ultimately, ‘to toy or fiddle with something in your hands’. From there one last meaning developed in the late eighteenth century: according to the English Dialect Dictionary (Vol. VI, 1905), to thrimble is ‘to finger or handle anything as if reluctant to part with it’, and ultimately, ‘to dole or pay out money grudgingly or reluctantly’.

About the author:

PAUL ANTHONY JONES is something of a linguistic phenomenon. He runs @HaggardHawks Twitter feed, blog and YouTube channel, revealing daily word facts to 39,000 engaged followers. His books include Word Drops (2015) and The Accidental Dictionary (2016). His etymological contributions appear regularly, from the Guardian to the Telegraph, Buzzfeed to Huffington Post and BBC Radio 4.

He lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne and is available for all types of word-nerdery.  

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