Book review: Discovering Words

By Julian Walker
Published by Shire Publications

If you have an active interest in etymology and want to know more about the origin of words that we use in our everyday life or if you simply want to impress your friends with interesting facts and stories, this book is for you. With a format easy to carry around and content arranged in an intuitive and clear way, Discovering Words will be one of those books that you keep referring to and don’t just put away on a shelf.

Julian Walker, an educator focussed on the way that objects hold stories and organizer of workshops on the history of language and books at the British Library, has put together a wide range of words that we take for granted on a daily basis and has put them under a new light. What does ‘umbrella’ mean? Where does the word ‘tea’ come from? What did the West African Wolof word for ‘to live wickedly’ develop into?

You will find the answers to these questions and more browsing this book, which is cleverly organised in twenty three subject areas, such as family, transport, food and work. And not only that! In the introduction, Walker succinctly explains the history of English and its neighbouring languages, making it easier to follow the progress of a word and its spelling through the centuries.

And if you want to test your knowledge before and after reading the book, challenge yourself and your friends with this quiz:


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