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Forgotten English Paperback – February 17, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0688166366 ISBN-10: 0688166369

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688166369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688166366
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Some think that the obsolescing of words from the English language is a sorry indication of its constant decline. Not so, argues Jeffrey Kacirk, the author of this charming collection of quirky antiquated words and the stories behind them. "In fact," he writes in his introduction, "the richness and maturity of a language may be gauged by the volume and quality of words it can afford to lose." The wonderful sounds these forgotten words make--nimgimmer, tup-running, mocteroof, frubbish, grog-blossom, wayzgoose, galligaskin, sockdolager--are half the fun. Their fabulous meanings, particularly those that seem inevitable once you learn them, make up the rest. And as the history of the words unfolds, so does history itself. Among the many strange and outmoded folk Kacirk introduces are the bird-swindler, a 19th-century "purveyor of expensive, exotic-looking birds that, upon closer inspection, were found to be one of several common varieties of local birds that had been trimmed and dyed"; the eye-servant, "a devious domestic or other employee ... who was too lazy to efficiently perform duties except when 'within eyeshot' of his or her master"; the prickmedainty, a 16th-century "man-about-town who coifed himself in an overly careful manner, frequently seeking the services of his barber"; and the dog-flogger, "a minor church official ... whose duty it was to supervise and discipline the unruly canines that traditionally accompanied their owners to English church services." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jeffrey Kacirk is a research aficionado with a special love for antique dictionaries. He lives in Marin County, California.

Customer Reviews

For word-lovers especially!
Sherrill Lewis
This book is one of several Kacirk has written (another good one is 'Informal English'), all of which illustrate the diversity and vitality of the English language.
FrKurt Messick
Entertaining and educational.
"wesblues3"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Tuckerby on January 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Forgotten English" is a delightful look at archaic words, expressions, and the societies that spawned them. The author does not simply define terms, but explains how they arose and what societal customs or beliefs they reflect. If you enjoy this book, you might also like the "Forgotten English" desk calendar.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Michael Ezzo on October 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Not one to read in large portions, this
unique book is absolutely recommended to anyone
who loves the English language.
Mr. Kacirk has done a wonderful service
to Anglophiles and <Forgotten English>'s virtues
are many. He takes each word separately; gives
a brief historical description; adds a few excerpts
from where the word was used; and polishes it off
with a lovely line illustration (printed in green ink which
makes for a perfect contrast to the black ink of
the text) to give a visual referent to sharpen the
reader's focus. I've seen other books similar
to this (<Curious Words> is an example) but
they usually give you long lists or unnecessary
variations and such, that frankly are tiresome
to read. Not so with <Forgotten Words>, which has
been delivered with perfection. Another
strong point about Kacirk is that
he is a humble man who doesn't
try to wow you with clever anecdotes and provocative
statements, a tendency which mars the work
of Bill Bryson, in his <Mother Tongue> book.
This one is superbly laid out, and a joy to
thumb through (but do it slowly -- quality before quantity)
and should provide no end of joy and satisfaction.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book as a gift for a friend/writer. I don't believe she was sure about the book at first but, has since told me that it is not only interesting and fun reading but has also become a source for new (old) words. I looked through it before I gave it and I found it to be intersting and also easy to read. I'd recommend it for writers looking for odd words or even for those wishing to "expand" their vocabulary. Keep in mind, however, that it is NOT set up like a thesaurus.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Forgotten English is a great asset to the mind and library of any well-read english student, teacher, or any to whom words, language, literature and history are of interest. It gives incredible insight to many works of literature, such as Shakespeare, popular classics and many more obscure texts. The author, Mr. Kacirk, uses a wealth of information from a world of resources. Every entry to this not-quite-dictionary-style, indexed book is very informative, as well as thoughtful and interesting. Overall, Forgotten English provides a great read. You will find yourself returning to this book many times in the years to come. Mr. Kacirk, this book is an honorable acheivement!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "wesblues3" on January 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
Received my copy yesterday and am very impressed with the uncommon wealth of ancestral language! After only 30 minutes of reading I purchased a 2nd copy for a family member --didn't want to keep this treasure a secret! Entertaining and educational. Highly recommended!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elise Liu on July 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting book. I wanted to use this more as a resource for unusual and interesting words to expand my vocabulary as a writer. Kacirk's volume is not that. Instead it's a sort of history-through-etymology, serving up lessons in what nouns were more common hundreds of years ago.

It's a great subject well-researched and well-written for someone else, but it didn't, in the end, suit my purposes. If like me you're trying to find interesting old ways to say eternally-true things, try "The Wonder of Whiffling" instead. It's heavier on the adjectives and abstract ideas, and for that reason it has supplied me with dozens of new favorite words.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
The English language has great diversity, perhaps nowhere as strong and colourful as across the spread of North America, the largest geographic landmass of English-speaking predominance in the world. Like any living language, the 'standard' is not always the one used in everyday speech and communication. The written language itself has differing standards, all at variance in one form or another from the spoken word. Because of this, much of the language gets lost over time. One of the things that makes novelists like Mark Twain memorable is that they captured elements of the informal language, the spoken language, in their text pages - something fairly rarely done, but something that can resonate with the readers.

Jeffrey Kacirk states in his introduction that it is this lost and vanishing element of the language that he concentrates upon for this book - not a surprise, really, given that the title of this book is 'Forgotten English'. Part of Kacirk's interest came from his upbringing, in which he lived in several different regions of the country, each geographically and linguistically distinct. Kacirk's introduction traces the development of the language in certain ways, including the fact that what are often considered 'Americanisms' often originated in the British Isles, falling out of use there but thriving in North America. With the advent of modern media (talking motion pictures, radio and television), the re-introduction of American speech patterns as both commonplace and acceptable has occurred, with occasional bumps.

The phrases Kacirk has accumulated here include pieces that contain the flavour of life in North America.
Read more ›
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