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Today's quote:

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The book that everyone has and no one ever reads

To read the book online, click here


With the possible exception of the phone book, I can think of no other book which is so frequently owned, and yet so infrequently read, as the dictionary.

Why don’t people read dictionaries? On the face of it this seems a rather easy question to answer. They are often quite long, the plot leaves something to be desired, and they are not compiled with the reader’s amusement in mind. If you were to one day announce to your friends that you were reading the dictionary it is quite possible that they would re-evaluate whether the friendship was worth saving.

Reading a dictionary, or dictionary-like books about strange words and their etymology - ooh, there's another word for you! - is not a sign of incipient madness and can be as enjoyable as reading any other book.


To read the book online, click here


I bought two books by Mark Forsyth, "The Etymologicon - A a circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English language" and "The Horologicon - A day's jaunt through the lost words of the English language", which, at the expense of losing some friends, promise hours of pure enjoyment (and that's before I've even received his third book, "The Elements of Eloquence - Secrets of the perfect turn of phrase").

I was also able to unearth the matching audiobooks on YouTube which are pure gold, although having a North American reading out aloud a quintessentially English book about the English language is a bit like listening to Stephen Fry reading "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn".


Words are full of magic. Listen to the author, Mark Forsyth, in this video clip


I hope you could join me on this journey into the interconnectedness of words, and how they evolved and created a chain of meanings and uses. Should anyone question you about your sudden interest in etymology, you can always say, "Well, at least I'm not reading the phone book".

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P.S. To listen to more of what Mark Forsyth has to say, click here.