Jolly Wicked, Actually: The 100 Words That Make Us English

Tony Thorne

Jolly Wicked, Actually: The 100 Words That Make Us English

A compendium of the hundred words and phrases that have over the last century become the cornerstones of modern spoken English, and have been used - sometimes deliberately, but often inadvertently - to stake out the common identity that unites the English, to define what makes us who we are, and thus different from those beastly foreigners who lurk just off our shores... Despite attempts by politicians and writers, despite lessons in citizenship enshrined in the national curriculum, we have famously never been able to define for posterity precisely what Englishness is. "Jolly Wicked, Actually" takes certain well-loved and crucial expressions such as sorry, nice, common, posh, cuppa, and chippy, explores their strange and wonderful origins, and demonstrates how they are emblems of an era or an attitude, of a heritage and of the traits and quirks essential to all our notions of Englishness. 3.2 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
Jolly Wicked, Actually: The 100 Words That Make Us English

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Language & Linguistics
Format Hardback
Pages 352
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication September 2009
ISBN 978-1408700891
Publisher Little, Brown
 

A compendium of the hundred words and phrases that have over the last century become the cornerstones of modern spoken English, and have been used - sometimes deliberately, but often inadvertently - to stake out the common identity that unites the English, to define what makes us who we are, and thus different from those beastly foreigners who lurk just off our shores... Despite attempts by politicians and writers, despite lessons in citizenship enshrined in the national curriculum, we have famously never been able to define for posterity precisely what Englishness is. "Jolly Wicked, Actually" takes certain well-loved and crucial expressions such as sorry, nice, common, posh, cuppa, and chippy, explores their strange and wonderful origins, and demonstrates how they are emblems of an era or an attitude, of a heritage and of the traits and quirks essential to all our notions of Englishness.

Read an extract at Times Online

Reviews

The Sunday Times

Lynne Truss

He describes himself as a “jaundiced 21st-century fogey”. So it’s reassuring to know he’s not immune to the writerly vice of ingratiation he so woundingly condemns in others. But it will be hard for people to like this book. I came away from it chastened (on account of the chattiness attacks), but mainly utterly depressed by the exposure of so many ghastly national shortcomings. On the plus side, I learnt a lot about slang.

23/08/2009

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The Observer

Euan Ferguson

He always has a good argument for their inclusion and is good at setting words in a social context. Where he falls down is in his slightly hectoring tone and his faintly over-literal ear. I'm fairly sure when Stephen Fry picked "moist" as his favourite word he was being a bit Stephen Fry (it's a bit like picking "gusset" or "carvery"). So I don't think we needed Tony to point out that it's a term of abuse in some playgrounds.

06/09/2009

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