cover of book

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities: A Yearbook of Forgotten Words
by Paul Anthony Jones
University of Chicago Press, 2019
eISBN: 978-0-226-64684-8 | Cloth: 978-0-226-64670-1
Library of Congress Classification PE1574.J667 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 422.03

Open The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities and you’ll find both a word and a day to remember, every day of the year. Each day has its own dedicated entry, on which a curious or notable event—and an equally curious or notable word—are explored.
On the day on which flirting was banned in New York City, for instance, you’ll discover why to “sheep’s-eye” someone once meant to look at them amorously. On the day on which a disillusioned San Franciscan declared himself Emperor of the United States, you’ll find the word “mamamouchi,” a term for people who consider themselves more important than they truly are. And on the day on which George Frideric Handel completed his 259-page Messiah after twenty-four days of frenzied work, you’ll see why a French loanword, literally meaning “a small wooden barrow,” is used to refer to an intense period of work undertaken to meet a deadline.

The English language is vast enough to supply us with a word for every occasion—and this linguistic “wunderkammer” is here to prove precisely that. So whatever date this book has found its way into your hands, there’s an entire year’s worth of linguistic curiosities waiting to be found.

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