My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I could quote almost any page of this book to demonstrate its awesomeness and healthy doses of “aha!” it can induce on the reader but that wouldn’t do The Etymologicon justice; Mark Forsyth does such an awesome job of linking one word to the next with such -delighfully British- humorous descriptions and eloquence that simply picking and choosing doesn’t feel right.
This book is an ode to the history and connectedness of languages, one delicious word -or group of words- after the other. You can get a taste of Forsyth’s etymology- and origin-of-language-related work in his blog Inky Fool, which worked as his groundwork for The Etymologicon. If you find any of it interesting at all, chances are you’ll fall in love with this book just like Daphne and I both did.
On an unrelated note, I think it’d be interesting to share with you that the previous owner of my copy felt the need to correct grammar and syntax mistakes, such as having “But” and “And” at the beginning of sentences, with her (I’m assuming it’s a bitchy, uptight, female 60 -year-old-virgin English teacher) black marker; at other places she noted “Daft!” or underlined mistakes obviously intended for humour. To give you a little example at some point the book reads: “What the proofreader gets is a proof copy, which he pores over trying to fnid misspellings and unnecessary apostrophe’s.” She went ahead and deleted that last apostrophe. She really did. “…they who are so exact for the letter shall be dealty with by the Lexicon, and the Etymologicon too if they please…” The book begins with this quote by the apparently very prolific John Milton; the lady would have done well to have taken this piece of advice to heart.