From baggywinkle and gollywobbler to tempest and flotsam, the sea in all her moods has given a boatload of words to the English language throughout history.
Grace Tierney’s fascinating Words the Sea Gave Us explores their origins along with a cargo of old sea dog yarns. Cast your line for the salty history of skyscraper, mollgogger, strike, cyber, and phrases like getting hitched, red herring, hot pursuit, and taking them down a peg.
Perfect reading for anybody who loves the sea and the history of the words… especally with Christmas right around the corner!
“I’ve nurtured a love of the sea throughout my life, growing up on Dublin Bay listening to the fog-horns and sea birds at night, wishing I could grow up to be a pirate on a sailing ship.”
I’ve had Irish author Grace on my blog before to speak about writing and etymology, and I was curious about her inspiration behind this newest book. Here’s what she had to say:
I’ve nurtured a love of the sea throughout my life, growing up on Dublin Bay listening to the fog-horns and sea birds at night, wishing I could grow up to be a pirate on a sailing ship, and now writing on Ireland’s east coast. I’ve been blogging every Monday (www.wordfoolery.wordpress.com) for a decade now about the history of unusual English words and I contribute a regular slot about words on LMFM radio.
As a history geek I love the stories behind the words – the final cutlass attack in World War Two, the Great Rum Debate, how Columbus contributed hammocks to the Apollo moon landing, why Long John Silver didn’t have a peg leg, and the origin of the booby trap.
Words provide a doorway into the past, changing meaning as people’s lives evolve and showing the links between countries.
Sailors, in particular, gathered words worldwide and brought them ashore for the rest of us to use. It amazed me during my research how many terms used on sailing ships are now common on airplanes and spaceships. Cockpit, pilot, purser, cabin and many more started on the high seas. If you pay attention at the movies you’ll even see Luke Skywalker being forced to “walk the plank”.
After a decade of exploring word histories, and two books on the topic, I haven’t even scratched the surface. Currently I’m neck deep in Old Norse as I research the next book in the series, “Words The Vikings Gave Us”.
Congratulations to Grace – and we’ll look forward to spotlighting her next book. If you’d like to order Grace’s book for yourselves, here are the details below.
Order Details – paperback
- Signed copies available direct from me to Ireland, UK, Europe, and other countries
- Amazon.co.uk £9.99 or Amazon.de €12.59 or Amazon.com ($15.99), Walmart, Bookshop.org, and Books A Million
- Book Depository worldwide
Order Details – ebook