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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Buying from a Bookshop with Style

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Winchester as part of my holidays. Just across the road from the Cathedral we came across this lovely bookshop, which to my mind is just what a bookshop should be. Each section had a hand-painted illustration above it.You can see the hand-painted signs above the shelves, including the spitfire for WWII, just under the bunting.

Of course we couldn't resist buying something and "The Story of English in 100 Words" by David Crystal seemed to be just the right sort of little hardback to get from this shop. I always enjoy books on etymology and words. He tells you a little more about the book in this article in The Telegraph

The book itself is fascinating.
The word so far that has caught my imagination is 'bone-house', a 10th century word-painting to describe a person by describing the body. This sort of description is called a 'kenning', from the old icelandic verb kenna - to know, where two words are put together to make a picture, as in a traveller being an 'earth-walker' or a ship being a 'wave-floater'. Further reading about the first word in the book can be found  is  here in a post on English Historical Fiction Authors by Richard Denning.

I could describe myself as a letter-tapper, a word-spewer, a coffee-gurgler, and a biscuit-muncher during my mornings at the keyboard, as well as a history-picker.

How would you describe yourself in a kenning?


  1. At the moment, a time-waster (regrettably). Lovely book shop!

  2. Bet that's not true Frances. What about all the horse management (and subsequent bruise management)? Your book should have been called Basic First Aid for Fallen Women instead of Basic Theology for Fallen Women. By the way, I'm a third of the way through it and think I know some of those women! Hilarious.

  3. The title of my Blog, before it migrated to my website, was Earthwalker - taken from the Anglo-Saxon word eardstapa, and that's how I still see myself. Another translation is "Wanderer" and that Old English poem is filled with kennings: heart's coffer, mind's hoard-case, gold-friend, woven-waves. I love it.

    How lucky you are to be in Winchester! One of my favorite places.

  4. Hi Pat, that's lovely. I like to learn the etymology of words, and I'm just going to earthwalk over to your blog now. Thanks for stopping by.