Gift of the Gob: Morsels of English Language History

01/26/2011 at 1:32 PM (Books, Educational, Inspired, Language) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Are you familiar with Can We Help, the TV show on ABC, partly hosted during the Wise Words segment by Kate Burridge? The show explored in detail where certain words and expressions that are cause for argument originally derived from and how they have progressed. Her vast and in-depth knowledge regarding the intricacies of the English language and its use  has her often explaining about new expressions, shifts in meanings and emerging grammatical constructs because of her linguistic expertise.

To watch videos of the ABC episodes of Can We Help, go here.

Gift Of the Gob - Kate Burridge

Her book titled ‘Gift of the Gob: Morsels of English Language History’ explains to us:

Q: Why can we fall in love but not in hate

Q: What do codswallop and poppycock share?

Q: Why not one house and two hice?

Within this book based on segments from the aforementioned television program and Soundbank from ABC Radio , Professor Kate Burridge investigates our language, untangles words and their meanings and uncovers how differences in interpretation and enunciation has transformed the evolution of English.

It demonstrates the  inventiveness of the tongue in how it exists as a ‘proper’ dialect along with its offending but amusing cousin, slang. Her informative  discussion of the origins of linguistic  appellations  in English answers how frequently used terms that are erroneous in their usage become an everyday staple. Her interview on why she decided to write the book after being inspired by the general public is accessible here.

She describes her favourite  word which has since expired in use as velleity: it means “a mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it.” I think my favourite words belonging to the English lexicon are  foreign words that become part and parcel of permanent use. What sort of uncommon expressions do you favour?


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