Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Top Shelf Books #4 The Superior Person’s Book Of Words by Peter Bowler

The top shelf of my bookcase is for any book that I’ve read more than once and still enjoy.  So far I have a series of children’s picture books, a post modern fantasy novel and a children’s novel up there.  Now joining the shelf is a funny non-fiction book.  The kind of thing you’d probably give as a gift.  I’ve read this twice and for a humorous distraction it does just what it’s supposed to.

The Superior Person’s Book Of Words by Peter Bowler

'Words are not only tools; they are also weapons.'

A good friend (The Butler) gave this to me.  It still has his post-it note on the front:

As we are both superior people who use big words I thought this was a perfect gift.  If you don’t like it feel free to defenestrate it and then lustrate yourself.  Or if you are feeling particularly nummamorous, sell it.

The book’s a collection of long and mostly obscure words, with meanings and usage and sometimes origin explained and as such is enlightening.  But where most books on lexicography (and people love to give me books about words) are interesting, this one is funny.  The descriptions are sarcastic or facetious.  The point of the words is to learn how to make your conversation incredibly pretentious, annoying and/or confusing.

'ET HOC GENUS OMNE phr. And all that sort of thing.  Why say etc. when you can say et hoc genus omne?'

I particularly like how the examples of situations in which to use the words are varied.  It’s not age or gender centric, each example is from a different point of view, so this book is aimed at anyone, so long as they are superior, of course.

If you like words, then The Superior Person’s Book Of Words is worth a good chuckle and you might learn something too.

From the Acknowledgments:

'I cannot let these definitions go before the public without acknowledging the contribution made by Dr. Ernest Foot, of The Chambers, Cheltenham, who worked with me on the manuscript and wrote several of the definitions.  To me should go much of the credit for whatever virtues this book possesses; the odium for any faults must rest entirely with him.'

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