Codswallop, Crumpet and Caper

  • Edward Allhusen
  • Old House Books
  • 2009

Dr Johnson published his first dictionary in 1746. That book detailed just over 40,000 words that were used in the English language. However, language doesn’t stay till. As time passes, language changes. A new word is invented, others are begged and borrowed from other languages. This is immediately evident when looking at a modern dictionary and discovering that there are over 600,000 words used in the English language nowadays. Edward Allhusen’s Codswallop, Crumpet and Caper takes a look at over 1300 English words in common use today and explains how they came to be added to the 40,000 words used back in 1746.

Not much more than a dictionary.

Codswallop, Crumpet and Caper has an interesting introduction, explaining the formation and development of the English language. By sneaking a peak at the comings and goings of the British nation – from the Celts to the Mandarin — a clear idea of the Britain through the ages is formed. It is evident that Allhusen is passionate about language and structures of words intrigue him. But when the compelling introduction draws to a close we are left with not much more than a dictionary.

With the dictionary being the inspiration for Codswallop, Crumpet and Caper, this may come as little surprise. However, not many people would choose to sit down and simply read a dictionary. Presentation-wise this is slightly off putting. However, for those that are passionate about words will find this an intriguing toilet read. Codswallop, Crumpet and Caper’s structure makes it easy to dip in and out of and those that are hungry for facts will be captivated. Codswallop, Crumpet and Caper does little more than its “words and where they come from” sub-heading, but then as a factual dip-in dip-out book, it doesn’t need to.

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