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Balderdash and Piffle



'Balderdash and Piffle' looks into words and phrases, their origins and usage and how they have developed over time. The beginnings of speech - who spoke first and what did they say? How are words connected to thought, how does irony add meaning to words. What are people?s favourite words?

Dr Johnson?s dictionary was 250 years old in 2005 ? why did he write it how has it inspired all subsequent works?

In more depth, the book will look into the origins of the alphabet, the story of print and typography. New words, new usages, turns of phrase and outstanding phrases will be discussed as will local and global lingo. The more recent popular culture phenomenon and its effect on language will also be explored.

Ignore the title - this is not tommyrot and tosh, but a treasure-trove: an entertaining and informative romp through the English Language - particularly the origins and peculiarities of words and phrases. Whether it's the words of sport, foreign languages or science that tickle your fancy, whether you find Shakespeare or JK Rowling gets your goat, you'll find something in this volume that's the bee's knees.

It's an accessible and attractive book that manages to cram in a huge number of interesting facts. Written with authority that doesn't give credence to urban word myths (unlike some other books which less successfully tackle this subject matter), the author has stamped great humour and attitude across each chapter.

It's the sort of book it's hard not to read out loud to anyone else who happens to be in the room - bound to appeal to the same wordy audience first tapped by Lynne Truss. It sits happily alongside the excellent BBC series of the same name, but also stands alone as a rattling good read - definitely recommended.

2 comments:

Chris said...

The TV series was excellent, and it was interesting to see the Oxford dictionary accepting personal diary entries (in selected cases) as source evidence for etymology. By the way, more fascinating facts on the origins of the alphabet can be found in 'The Alphabet' by David Sacks. (Ahem, I vaguely remember reviewing that one myself somewhere...).

actonbell said...

I just heard about this book on NPR, and thought it sounded fascinating, but promptly forgot the title--so thank you! Great post:)