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Patrick Skipworth studied Classics and Linguistics in London and the Netherlands, connecting the dots between ancient cultures, their histories, and their languages. Today, Patrick is a children’s book editor, but he likes to write his own books when he can. Some of his favourite topics are prehistoric bugs, super-intelligent robots and legends from far away places. His favourite word is 'mosaic.' Patrick Skipworth lives in London.
From its striking yellow cover to the colour drenched inside spreads, this is a book which grabs the reader’s attention. Taking 12 familiar words, each entry explains the pronunciation, origin, English meaning, and original meaning, and then has a small paragraph with the story of how each word came to be included in English and how its meaning changed as the word travelled the globe. This allows the author to really highlight the interconnectedness of language and culture and subtly brings out the multi layered details of the history behind each word. The entertaining word selection shows us words with a number of types of derivation. We have those derived from phrases (companion comes from the Latin for ‘with bread’ - meaning a good friend who you could share your lunch with) , those from actions (Ukelele actually means, ‘jumping flea’, because the player’s fingers appear to jump around like fleas), some from sounds (animal names)and some generated by the universal appeal of onomatopoeia. This fascinating and accessible introduction to linguistics also has some surprises, for example the word Mummy used to describe a preserved body does not come from where you would expect! The witty illustrations add their own explanation of the meaning and connections behind each word and each word becomes part of the illustration. A useful map of language families completes a book designed to whet the appetite to explore yet more word origins. Readers will be left with a real awareness of the cultural diversity and ever-changing nature of the English language. An attractive and appealing information book that will be read with pleasure.