Absolutely Ambrosing!

imagesCA116KRHI downloaded my Christmas reading from the Gutenberg project so it was all free and easily loaded into my reader. Not sure what it says about Christmas, or my return to work, but only getting through the books now. Wonderful find was The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce ( I still remember having to study but actually enjoying An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge many, many years ago).

For lovers of language, this book provides a wonderfully cynical definition of words you will never use in the same way again. A couple of tasty examples:

ABRUPT: Sudden, without ceremony, like the arrival of a cannon – shot and the departure of the soldier whose intersts are most affected by it.

which can be nicely linked to the definition of …

CANNON: an instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries.

There are also some wonderfully caustic explanations of terms frequently used in terms of politics. It struck me as depressing that they seem completely relevant to today’s world … not much has changed.

Here is one particular curiosity I came across:

HASH, x. There is no definition for this word – nobody knows what hash is.

What did he mean? And what would he have made of HASHTAG? In fact, I think the world is dying for an update of this dictionary. How would we define Facebook, Twitter, Blog … with a sufficient sense of cycnicism and of course the occasional pun as demanded by this blog? I am tempted but will wait for another day …

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