Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Horologicon - Mark Forsyth

Book Details

Book Title: The Horologicon

Author: Mark Forsyth

: Icon Books Ltd 2013

Source: Library

Page Count: 258

Format: Paperback

Field Of Interest: Etymology 

Audience: Those who love the meaning and origins of words.

Summed up in one word: There isn't just one word for this book...there are lots...

Author Bio: Mark Forsyth is a writer, journalist, proofreader, ghost writer and pendant. After starting his Inky Fool blog, he continued that work into The Horologicon. MF loves etymology and he is a gifted wordsmith!
First Impression: I am so happy when I come across books like this. Books that talk about words, books, bookshops or any other interesting subject surrounding the written word are very special to me and this does not disappoint. Mark Forsyth has written 4 books, of which 3 sit on my shelf as I can't get enough of his way with words. This is sort of a serious read, but with all the wit, humour and great words, this book is a blast.

The Tagline for this book is:

'A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language'

Mark Forsyth maps out our day from waking up at 6am to going to bed at 12am (possibly drunk). With this time-frame MF unveils lots of lost words and phrases of the items/activities/actions we experience everyday. From Aztec to Medieval. From Victorian to the Second World War. These words have lost their places in our modern society, but that does not make them incredibly interesting and worth knowing. Even if it is just to spice up everyday conversation or to confuse/annoy colleagues and loved ones with ancient insults that have amazing and rich history in past cultures.

This book begins when we open our eyes in the morning, woken up by one of the various 'expergefactors' that occur in the start of the day. We get ready for work, 'Jenticulate', usually with 'cackling farts'. Once we get to work and avoid all the 'ultracrepidarians', we can ignore the 'Mugwump' and get on with avoiding doing any work. After the visit to the 'fumatorium' and doing as much 'quomodocunquizing' as possible, you the faint sound of 'borborygmi' and off to lunch you go. These are the sort of scenarios and words that you will experience inside 'The Horologicon'. Grab yourself a copy, learn some great old words and have a lot of fun doing so!


Content: As far as content goes, this book has it all. Relevant, important and interesting information, set out in a recognisable and easy going format. Most importantly, this is content that everyone can relate to. As the reader I was amazed, amused and astounded by these words and phrases, their origins and context were just as satisfying and entertaining. (Some origins were sad, horrific or just plain uncool, but they are very scarce.)

Author Style: Mark Forsyth lives and breathes the world of etymology. It shows in The Horologicon. The whole time the reader spends with this book, they can sense that MF not only knows his stuff but he has a great time talking about it. The fact that the author is a having a good time while he writes makes this book special. MF's choice to use the outline of a typical day was a great choice and he uses it to good effect. I found that the humour he adds to his writing is the best part of the book, he is funny, witty and  he writes great jokes.

Accomplishments: This book accomplishes plenty. It teaches fun, old and amusing words to those who want to learn more about them. MF uses context, origins and jokes to make words interesting to people. MF also highlights plenty of actions we perform or items we interact with throughout our day and shines a light on them, explaining the terminology and history of each of the things we usually perform or experience without thinking much about them. For example Pandiculation - The stretching of the arms and body in the morning.

Pros: Smart, funny writing. Plenty to learn. Quality writing and decent format.

Cons: Not enough....? I had to keep stopping to write these words down :). There is not much wrong with this piece. I have not got the knowledge or the time to go through and fact check this book, so there is the possibility of misinformation. 

Extras: MF's other books look just as interesting and I will add the reviews when I have finished them. I will just jot down some words from The Horologicon here to give you an idea of the content you can enjoy inside:

Plutomania - Frenzied pursuit of money.
Nephelolater - One who enjoys passing clouds
Borborygmi - The rumbling noises produced by an empty stomach
Eructation - Belching
Latibulaters - People who hide in corners
Oniomania - Compulsion to buy things
Perendinate - Put off until the day after tomorrow
Interjaculate - Throw in between
Deipnophobia - Dread of dinner parties
Apodysophilia - A feverish desire to undress

Rating: As a book and word loving fellow, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. I do really enjoy any books on words, books, libraries, book festivals, book history and reading, so maybe I am slightly biased. Never the less, read this, enjoy it and use its words in everyday conversation just for the fun of it.


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