Yule, a Scottish Orientalist, had also been taking note of such words and phrases, and the men decided to work together on creating a glossary of words of Asian origin, used in British India. Its origin has been much debated, but with little result. One derivation, backed by a fictitious legend, derives the name from an imaginary Christian fisherman called Madarasen; but this may be pronounced philologically impossible, as well as otherwise unworthy of serious regard. Surnames too, find a mention as markers of caste and birth rank.
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The book is densely packed with words and their meanings and how these Publishers used to think that etymology was a dry dusty and academic subject until books by writers such as Michael Quinion showed that there was a real appetite for finding the true origins of the words and phrases we used - unthinkingly - everyday. The book is densely packed with words and their meanings and how these have changed over time.
Some are fascinating. It appears to derive either from a bizarre form of suicidal rage or refer to a caste of shaven headed berserk warriors. The entry gives lengthy quotations showing the history of the use of the word in English and at times other european languages ; these themselves take up a few pages of closely typed text.
Its use of very extensive quotations to trace the use of a word make this a very comprehensive guide. On the other hand, it also tends to make the book less attractive to the general reader and more a work for scholars and academics. The joy of a writer such as Quinion is that his books are both entertaining and informative. Here the interest only really lies in the content. Whilst I might find an entry describing a word I know and am interested in enjoyable to read, I did not find myself drawn to read other entries in the way that a more engaging text might lead you to.
A linked problem is that, whilst some of the words may have been in use in , when first published, they have dropped out of common usage now. It takes some effort to work out that that is what the entry is even about. Ya Hosain! It sounds enormous fun. Sadly, this book, whilst not without enjoyment, will not be greeted by many quite so enthusiastically.
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