Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Etymologicon

I've just started reading The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language and can't recommend it too highly to anyone who has an interest in, or a love of, words. The author, Mark Forsyth, says his family forced him into writing it as all other avenues of self- or psychiatric help couldn't cure him of his insistence in not only taking a single simple word and tracing its roots, and their roots, and their roots, but then talking about it to anyone with the temerity to ask and the patience to listen.

The first chapter takes us from books to bookmakers to turn-ups; the second from medieval French gambling to the gene-pool - honestly, there are links - and all written with a wryly self-deprecatory style that I can only envy. You'll find it on Amazon and in your Christmas stocking if you're lucky.

And I don't know the author.

Patronisingly, he said . . .

Just heard a 'social commentator' say, rather patronisingly, that the Duchess of Devonshire (she called her Kate, so I assume she knows her well) doesn't do a good job of patronising British designers. Personally, I think it's very easy to patronise the designers of some of the catwalk creations trotted out each year. Little dears. But, of course, the 'social commentator' didn't mean that. She meant it in terms of 'being a patron' and purchasing their wares. (The D of D is apparently rather more sensible in her, rather stylish, buying habits. She even wears some of her outfits more than once!) That aside, however, the comment illustrated how one word can mean two very different things and how careful a speaker/writer should be when using them. Or perhaps it was her new word of the day - he said, patronisingly.
Just noticed that the Blog editor keeps wanting to put a 'z' in the word. No.