Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities

I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities: A Yearbook of Forgotten Words by Paul Anthony Jones, which will be published in the UK by Elliott & Thompson on Thursday, October 19th.

I started reading these delightful daily doses of etymology last week, and plan to keep the book at my bedside for the whole of the year to come. By happy coincidence, today is also my birthday, so (if I may so flatter myself) in joint honor of the occasion plus the book’s impending publication, Elliott & Thompson have kindly offered a giveaway copy to one UK-based reader.

Enjoy today’s entry, and leave a comment if you’d like to be in the running for the giveaway. I will choose the winner at random at the end of Saturday the 21st and notify them via e-mail.

 

 

14 October

Parthian (adj.) describing or akin to a shot fired while in retreat

The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14 October 1066. Exhausted and depleted from fighting the Battle of Stamford Bridge just nineteen days earlier, the English King Harold’s forces were eventually overcome by those of the invading Norman King William when they began to implement an ingenious and effective tactic. Reportedly, William’s troops pretended to flee from the battle in panic, and as their English attackers pursued them, the Normans suddenly turned back and resumed fighting.

The Normans and their allies, observing that they could not overcome an enemy which was so numerous and so solidly drawn up, without severe losses, retreated, simulating flight as a trick . . . Suddenly the Normans reined in their horses, intercepted and surrounded [the English] and killed them to the last man.

William of Poitiers, Gesta Guillelmi (c.1071)

The Normans weren’t the first to use such a tactic; fighters in ancient Parthia, a region of northeast Iran, were known to continue firing arrows at their enemies while retreating from the battlefield. The ploy proved so effective that the adjective Parthian ultimately came to be used of any shot or attack employed while in retreat, or in the dying moments of an engagement. In that sense, the word first appeared in English in the mid seventeenth century, but while the technique they employed remained familiar, the Parthians themselves did not. Ultimately, the word Parthian became corrupted, and steadily drifted closer to a much more familiar term – so that today this kind of last-minute attack or sally is typically known as a parting shot.

 

23 responses

  1. This looks a wonderful book! Another for my Christmas list (which is growing rapidly courtesy of the reviews you’ve been posting lately.) Unless, of course, I should be lucky enough to be picked from your prize draw! 🙂

    Happy Birthday, Rebecca!

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    1. Thank you! I will enter you in the prize draw for sure 🙂 Elliott & Thompson release such lovely books.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy birthday, and this looks like a fabulous book, so I’d love to enter the draw, please, but it will go on my wishlist whatever!

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    1. Thank you! You’re entered to win.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, happy birthday! Have a good evening. And please put me in for the prize draw. I suspect that when I don’t win, and of course I won’t, this book will go on my Christmas list anyway.

    Like

    1. Thanks! Nothing ventured, nothing gained? Only three entries so far, so you have a good chance.

      Like

  4. This book looks fascinating, I would love to win a copy, it is already on my wish list. Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We share the same birthday! I hope yours was an enjoyable one. Many happy returns!

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    1. Ah, lovely! We share it with Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Winnie the Pooh, apparently. I hope you had a good day. We did a couple outings to Hungerford for a walk and the literary festival, and my husband cooked up a feast for me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And Cliff Richard, although I tend not to shout about that! That sounds lovely. I did, thanks: my partner took me out for a delicious lunch followed by a very enjoyable trip to the cinema to see The Party.

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      2. Ha ha, yes, Cliff Richard is perhaps not one to crow about 😉 Glad you had a nice outing.

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      3. P.S. Did you want to be entered in the giveaway?

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  6. Happy Belated Birthday, Rebecca! I have this book on my wish list and others of Paul Anthony Jones (Haggard Hawks and Paultry Poltroons and Accidental Dictionary) . I (my alter-ego actually) follows Haggard Hawks on Twitter. I love words, so this book is a fantastic dream, blending the desire to learn about lost words with the intrigue of a Victorian curiosity cabinet. A great subject and a great title! Well, I must get back to work. Thank you for the opportunity.

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    1. Thanks! That’s great that you know about Jones and his other books. Can I just confirm that you’re based in the UK?

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  7. Hello, I love everything about the description of this book and would love a copy x

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    1. Great stuff! I’ll enter you in the drawing.

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  8. My gosh, I need this book in my life! Haggard Hawks is my absolute favourite twitter account 💙

    P.S. Happy belated Birthday 🎈

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    1. Ah, a perfect book for you then! I’ll put your name down for the giveaway.

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  9. Belated best wishes for your birthday! This book looks a treat. If your giveaway doesn’t go my way, perhaps Santa will have me covered. =]

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    1. Splendid! I’ve entered you in the giveaway.

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  10. Thanks for sharing this, Rebecca – hurray for a new Paul Anthony Jones / Haggard Hawks book about the joys of language! (Oh, and please include me in the draw for the giveaway 😊 Thanks very much!)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Congratulations to our winner, Lauren! I’ll contact you by e-mail for your address so Elliott & Thompson can send you a copy.

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  12. […] was also on the blog tour for The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities: A Yearbook of Forgotten Words and enjoyed having that as my daily bedside book for a whole year. […]

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