Around the World in 80 Words by Paul Anthony Jones

4 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The United Kingdom has a habit of acquiring things from all around the world and keeping them; just take a look in any museum… But one of the things that we are very good at keeping is words and phrases, incorporating them into English and calling them our own. So far not many have objected, but how they ended up in the English language and where they came from is a story in its own right. Paul Anthony Jones is well placed to tell us too. He has chosen eighty well-known ones and is about to embark on an etymology world tour.

Starting in London with the Kent Street ejectment, Europe beckons where we will learn the origins of the phrases and words, zabernism, ampster, Abderian laughter and where the colour magenta is from. Nipping across the straits of Gibraltar, tangerines and Algerines enter the lexicon. It is bedlam in the Middle East and doolally in India, before reaching Xanadu in the Far East. There is a brief sojourn through the islands of the Pacific and then onto the Americas for yet more bunkum. Heading back over the pond is an opportunity to collect the final few words in this 70,000-mile tour de lexicon around the planet.

Paul Anthony Jones has written another cracker of a book for the lovers of words and language. There are scores of fascinating details on the words he has traced and much more from each location as we head around the globe with him. If you weren’t a word nerd before, reading this should make you one. It would have been nice to have a map showing the route round the world too.

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4 Comments

  1. What a great premise!! I love non-fiction writers who find new and interesting ways to examine and explain history, and being a word-nerd this sounds like it’s right up my alley. Thank you!!

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