“English doesn’t borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and goes through their pockets for loose grammar.”
James D. Nicoll
Organised alphabetically for easy reference, A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” is an accessible lexicon of foreign words and phrases used in English, containing everything from aficionado (Spanish) to zeitgeist (German). Inside you’ll find translations, definitions, origins, and a descriptive timeline of each item’s evolution.
À la carte: from the card or of the menu (French)
Fiasco: complete failure (Italian)
Dungarees: thick cotton cloth/overalls (Hindi)
Diaspora: dispersion (Greek)
Smorgasbord: bread and butter (Swedish)
Cognoscenti: those who know (Italian)
Compos mentis: having mastery of one’s mind; with it (Latin)
Attractively packaged with black and white illustrations, this whimsical yet authoritative book is a great gift for any etymologically fascinated individual. Use this book to reacquaint yourself with the English language, and you’ll be compos mentis in no time.
Publisher: Michael O’Mara
Publication date: April 1st 2017
This book is a fun and easy read and would appeal to anyone who has an interest/curiosity about the origins of the words that we use in our everyday language. There are some surprises contained within its pages and then there are ones that make perfect sense. It also manages to highlight just how much we take for granted in our language usage. I really enjoyed reading this book and am likely to go back to it many times in my life. You can easily pick this book up and read wherever you want in it – it doesn’t need to be read from cover to cover if you don’t want to.
Recommend for: Anyone who is curious about our language