29 March 2015

***Exciting news!***

It’s been just over a year since HaggardHawks fluttered into life on Twitter back in December 2013. Since then, we’ve appeared everywhere from The Guardian in the UK to Mental_Floss in the US and The New Daily in Australia. We’ve tweeted nearly 4,000 words and language facts, and we’ve gained more than 8,000 followers. So a quick thanks—to everyone—for your continued interest and support.

But, thought we, isn’t it a shame to leave all these facts in the electronic ether? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a shiny, papery copy of HaggardHawks’ back catalogue of linguistic trivia to add to your bookshelf?

Well, thanks to the lovely people at Elliott & Thompson, we now have just that:

Our new factbook, Word Drops, is published on 16 April 2015. In it, you’ll find 1000 of our best and strangest facts—as well as a whole host of new linguistic titbits and trivia that we’ve never tweeted before—all in one long word-association chain. 

So the fact that the word unkempt literally means “uncombed” links into the fact that barber, Barbados and rebarbative all derive from the Latin word for “beard”. And that links in nicely with the fact that in Old English, a frumberdling was a boy growing his first beard. And a beard-second is a measurement of 5 nanometres—or the distance a beard hair grows in one second. 

And a treatise written on the subject of beards is a pogonology. While the pogonion is the frontmost point of your chin. And speaking of which, the word sobriquet comes from the French for “hit under the chin”. But the toast chin-chin is a reworking of the Chinese greeting tsing-tsing. And did you know that the sentence “when you are eating grapes you don’t spit out the skin, but when you are not eating grapes you do spit out the skin” is a Chinese tongue-twister? 

We could go on, but that would be telling. (You can find out how that particular part of the chain picks up on page 140.) 

All the way through Word Drops we’ve also added hundreds of footnotes and annotations to flesh out some of the most intriguing facts, providing all the extra background that there often isn’t room for on Twitter—everything from how to play some traditional Inuit games to the origin of the Bellini cocktail, from the precise length of one jiffy to what the Romans thought hoopoes ate, and from what to expect on a night out with Dr Johnson to how Samuel Pepys cured his hangover. Want to know what the longest word made of Roman numerals is, or who The Great Masticator was? Or what Norwegian steam is, or what a jäääär is? It’s all inside. 

In the weeks leading up to the release of Word Drops—so called, we should say, because each fact “drops” into place beside the others—there are a few developments planned on @HaggardHawks, including a competition this coming April Fools Day, in which you can win yourself a signed copy before the book even hits the shops… More details of that to come later this week!

In the meantime, you can head across to Amazon now for more info. 

And thanks again for following! There would be no HaggardHawks without you. 

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