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Descripción de editorial
This book explores the fascinating origins of the words and phrases that we use every day. Simon Horobin takes the reader through a typical day's activities - waking up, eating meals, going to work - and looks at the etymology of the words we use to describe them, as well as how their meanings have changed over time.
Horobin (How English Became English), an Oxford professor of English language and literature, dives into word origins in this enjoyable, fast-paced survey. He structures his book according to aspects of everyday life, offering up a litany of words related to each topic. In a section on eating, Horobin traces the ancestry of the word pudding back to the Anglo-Norman bodeyn, meaning "sausage" (because puddings were once cooked in sausage-like casings), itself deriving from the Latin botellus, meaning "small intestine." (And upon discovering this, he observes, "you may find yourself suddenly feeling unexpectedly full.") Regarding money, he shows how words in use today preserve traces of past cultures' physical artifacts: coin derives from the Latin cuneus, or "wedge," referring to the Romans' wedge-shaped coin stamper, while the Greek word for the equivalent device, kharakter, gives English character, meaning a person's mark or trait. In addition to ancient history, Horobin delves into the modern language of social media and illustrates its deficiencies by explaining how Moby-Dick's famous opening sentence was rendered in the adaptation Emoji Dick: as a string of symbols representing a telephone, a man with a mustache, a boat, a whale, and an "okay" hand signal. Horobin's often humorous and always enthusiastic work will entertain readers by revealing the dynamic nature of language.