Long words bother me
'Long words bother me' confessed Winnie the Pooh, but the fact is that the short ones are just as problematic. This book is about the craziness of words, and how they can change their meanings in the most unpredictable ways over time.
Synonyms can become antonyms and words that sound different can turn into homonyms.
They can die for no apparent reason. Any they can't be controlled: today's error is tomorrow's accepted form.
But most of all, they are fascinating. How is it, for example, that monks in the Middle Ages were able to call the Virgin Mary buxom and daft without either admiring her figure or impuning her innocence?
Why would an Anglo-Saxon warrior have been thrilled if hit by a Viking spear? And why can't sledging be kept off the cricket field?