Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Forgotten English by Jeffrey Kacirk

I took my time reading this book and I'm glad I did, because it's a book that should be savoured in small doses. Forgotten English is a book about words that have fallen out of use. Some I actually knew/had heard about, some are the predecessors of modern words, and some flabbergasted me. The words are organised by theme, such as drink, occupation, love, etc., and each word contains the meaning and a brief history of it.

Most of the time, this history includes examples of how the word was used, with lots of quotations from old texts.

I found this to be very illuminating and enjoyable. Sure, we probably won't be using these words in our daily lives, but the history of English is a fascinating topic that I don't normally think about. It was really fun to learn something new about something that I thought I already knew.

Words that are explained include:

Mocteroof: which is used for the craft of "frubbishing" or making damaged fruits and vegetables look good (and the the entry explains how)

Mob fair: which is a job hunting fair for domestic and agricultural workers

Purl-men: 18th and 19th century beer-sellers who sold their beer on the Thames and other rivers

Lettice-cap: a medical appliance that resembles a hair net (although lettuce was probably not used)

Gorgayse: a Middle English word which means "elegant, fashionable" and is the predecessor of the word gorgeous

And much more!

You really don't have to be a wordsmith to enjoy this book. As long as you like the English language and/or history, you'll enjoy reading this.

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