Literature Jeffrey Kacirk Forgotten English

ISBN 13: 9780688166366

Forgotten English

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9780688166366: Forgotten English

Have you ever sent a message via scandaroon, needed a nimgimmer, or fallen victim to bowelhive? Never heard of these terms? That's because they are a thing of the past. These words are alive and well, however, in Forgotten English, a charming collection of hundreds of archaic words, their definitions, and old-fashioned line drawings.

For readers of Bill Bryson, Henry Beard, and Richard Lederer, Forgotten English is an eye-opening trip down a delightful etymological path. Readers learn that an ale connor sat in a puddle of ale to judge its quality, that a beemaster informed bees of any important household events, and that our ancestors had a saint for hangover sufferers, St. Bibiana, a fact pertinent to the word bibulous. Each selection is accompanied by literary excerpts demonstrating the word's usage, from sources such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Chaucer, and Benjamin Franklin. Entertaining as well as educational, Forgotten English is a fascinating addition to word lovers' books.

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Review:

Some think that the obsolescing of words from the English language is a sorry indication of its constant decline. Not so, argues Jeffrey Kacirk, the author of this charming collection of quirky antiquated words and the stories behind them. "In fact," he writes in his introduction, "the richness and maturity of a language may be gauged by the volume and quality of words it can afford to lose." The wonderful sounds these forgotten words make--nimgimmer, tup-running, mocteroof, frubbish, grog-blossom, wayzgoose, galligaskin, sockdolager--are half the fun. Their fabulous meanings, particularly those that seem inevitable once you learn them, make up the rest. And as the history of the words unfolds, so does history itself. Among the many strange and outmoded folk Kacirk introduces are the bird-swindler, a 19th-century "purveyor of expensive, exotic-looking birds that, upon closer inspection, were found to be one of several common varieties of local birds that had been trimmed and dyed"; the eye-servant, "a devious domestic or other employee ... who was too lazy to efficiently perform duties except when 'within eyeshot' of his or her master"; the prickmedainty, a 16th-century "man-about-town who coifed himself in an overly careful manner, frequently seeking the services of his barber"; and the dog-flogger, "a minor church official ... whose duty it was to supervise and discipline the unruly canines that traditionally accompanied their owners to English church services."

About the Author:

Jeffrey Kacirk is a research aficionado with a special love for antique dictionaries. He lives in Marin County, California.

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