Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Book on Weird Words is an Enchiridion

Those with an attraction to the ostrobogulous, who are sometimes plagued by onomatomania, offended by blatteroons, and aim to be a deipnosophist, will be pleased to learn that a new book is an exennium that won’t have to wait for the New Year.

To those who suspect me a jobbernowl with a kangaroo loose in the top paddock, I can only aver in my defense, “dymsassenach!"

Or, that I’ve been pouring through The Wonder of Whiffling And Other Extraordinary Words in the English Language, a new addition to the canon of books on wild, weird and wow-inspiring words, presented as a gift to us by Adam Jacot de Boinod, whose earlier trek into the wilds of vocabulary is The Meaning of Tingo, a tour through the strangest words in the languages of the world.

Having treasured Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words (1974) upon its publication, as well as J.N. Hook’s The Grand Panjandrum And 1,999 Other Rare, Useful, and Delightful Words and Expressions (1980), Peter Bowler’s The Superior Person’s Book of Weird and Wondrous Words (1985) and its sequels, The Wonder of Whiffling now elbows its way onto my Top Shelf.

This book is an absolute necessity. Invited to dinner by a “vice admiral of the narrow seas,” you’ll want to know that such a person is a drunkard who vomits over his neighbor. For some reason, I’ve had more than my share of such companionship. Would that I’d had this book a long time ago. I could have saved myself a lot of sinsorg.

The Wonder of Whiffling is a delightful and eye-opening schlep through Old and Middle English, Tudor-Stuart, rural dialects collected by Victorian lexicographers, the argot of 19th century criminals (those who know me well note my resemblance to a aurium – a wandering beggar posing as some sort of priest), and slang from the world wars right up to the present and trailer park trash-talk.

This book is a supernaculum and I’m cherubimical on it, just besotted. Forgive me if, when we meet on the street, I address you as "Shaggledick!" I mean no insult. You're familiar but your name escapes me; I'm a slubberdegullion and a goostrumnoodle.

Don't be "two wafers short of a communion!" G'wan, get outta here, and get The Wonder of Whiffling. 

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