Probably the most interesting, significant and readable book that I’ve read in the last decade or so is A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It’s fairly hefty at 500 odd pages but even so I’ve read it throughout twice and have listened to the book on CD version also, I like to listen in bed in the early hours. When I acquired the CD’s I inadvertently loaded them into my computer which resulted in them being installed into iTunes and consequently whenever I listen to iTunes on shuffle I get an occasional chapter on some aspect of the history of science sandwidged between Dylan and whoever. I don’t mind that one bit.
He’s a fabulous humorous writer with enormous curiosity which he uses to investigate and explain basically the history of almost everything we know and how and when we discovered it.
I’ve always loved the way he begins the book, by describing us in a most unique but totally complete fashion, I just found that introduction at youtube and I’d like to share it with you; it’s well worth the listen.

9 thoughts on “YOU, IN A NUTSHELL.

  1. I’ve never been able to take Bill Bryson seriously since he wrote a book called Mother Tongue in which he claimed that there are no swear words in Finnish. Really? Perkele! Ihan paskaa! Läski mulkku! Tyhmä vitun kusipää!

    He’s a good and entertaining writer but don’t take his word as gospel. Dig a bit deeper.

    • I do like Mr Bryson’s books but in one he claimed that the word “slobberchops” ( meaning a messy eater) was archaic !

      No one told my mum, dad or friends about that. Perhaps we are all archaic too !
      It did make me wonder how accurate some “language” books are. These old words don’t always die out totally.

      • I just use the language I know but I presume much of it is archaic [IYer English is stuck in 1995. – Ed]. Spill is a good example. I can remember making spills out of paper to light the fire with back when I were a cheeky little buggeranta in Stockport. Does anyone still use spill that way anymore? Birch bark spills are the best. Skriking was another word I thought archaic but it’s very similar to some Finnish-Swedish archipelago language, so I use it a lot out here. And the Arctic Monkeys using mard was a great boost for a favourite word. I love to say mardarse. Mardarse.

    • Language, Tiimöthy!

      As a nipper I used to love making spills from the newspaper, laying a lattice of thin sticks and coal on them and praying as they struggled to light. Happy days!

      • Ah! I love making spills. I have to. At the summer house we have no leccy and if we want hot water or warmth in the house we set the fire.

        Sorry about being critical of Bill Bryson but he was so wrong in that book. He just wasn’t curious enough or was hoodwinked by elaborate Finnish dry-as-a-bone humour.

        Honestly, once a fine citizen of the US, who had learnt his Finnish from his parents, decided to visit Finland. After a couple of hours in Finland he asked, “This vittu word everyone says, what does it mean?” “Cunt!” came the reply.

  2. When I grew up in Sheffield ‘mardi’ or ‘mardy’ was commonly used to describe a crybaby, a gansy was a pullover, summat was something, nowt was nothing, owt was anything, thee and tha were both you, thy sen was you also, tha mun = you must, a skelp was a slap. I saw a short bit of Educating Yorkshire recently and was pleased to hear the school teachers talkin’ r8t.

  3. Actually a gansy wasn’t a pullover, it had buttons up the front [just as trousers had buttons down the front,] I remember the advent of zippers. My grandfather used the word gansy all the time.

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