The Painted Word
Posted: 28 April 2013 03:34 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Any comments about this book?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Painted-Word-Treasure-Remarkable/dp/1936740176

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Posted: 29 April 2013 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Having “looked inside the book” at Amazon, I’m confident in saying it would be worth reading only if one had a particularly high esteem for his writing style.  He’s written, or at least produced, dozens and dozens of books about all manner of subjects (many about religion, mysticism, etc.) but almost none related to language, and it seems to be just another of those “here are a bunch of random words I have looked up so I can tell stories about them” books that are endlessly popular (so there are always new ones coming off the assembly line).  Like all such books, it could be useful in pointing one towards interesting word histories, but one would want to double-check anything in a more scholarly reference before adding it to one’s core memory.

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Posted: 30 April 2013 02:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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“Aloof ... a word that drifted into English from Holland, where English itself was born around the 11th century, according to Melvyn Bragg ...”

Has Melvyn Bragg really said that? This sounds like an unbelievably garbled version of something picked up from the first programme of Bragg’s The Adventures of English television series, in which he talked about Frisian being the closest modern language to the “English” spoken 1,600 or so years ago when what became English began replacing the Brythonic language in south-eastern Britain. Given THAT apparent misunderstanding in the book, I’d be dubious about trusting anything else.

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Posted: 30 April 2013 03:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Unless he meant that aloof came into English in the 11th century.  Might could’ve used another comma in there if that’s the case.  Online Etymology Dictionary says 1530 for aloof‘s entry into English.

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Posted: 30 April 2013 03:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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He’s also wrong about aloof coming from Dutch, or at least the OED contradicts his explanation, but he can be forgiven for that. The second edition of the OED agrees with his explanation that the word comes from Dutch, but the third edition changes the etymology significantly. The third edition entry was revised in September 2012, probably too late for him to have seen it before publication. (There’s no excuse for the eleventh century thing. That’s so bad it’s not even wrong.)

Aloof is sixteenth century and probably immediately from the French au louf. The Dutch is cognate, but probably not the origin.

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