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Stories That Words Tell Us   By: (1877-)

Book cover

First Page:

STORIES THAT

WORDS TELL US

BY

ELIZABETH O'NEILL, M.A.

AUTHOR OF "THE WORLD'S STORY,"

"A NURSERY HISTORY

OF ENGLAND," ETC.

LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACK, LTD.

35 PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.

AND EDINBURGH

1918

CONTENTS

I. SOME STORIES OF BRITISH HISTORY TOLD FROM ENGLISH WORDS

II. HOW WE GOT OUR CHRISTIAN NAMES AND SURNAMES

III. STORIES IN THE NAMES OF PLACES

IV. NEW NAMES FOR NEW PLACES

V. STORIES IN OLD LONDON NAMES

VI. WORDS MADE BY GREAT WRITERS

VII. WORDS THE BIBLE HAS GIVEN US

VIII. WORDS FROM THE NAMES OF PEOPLE

IX. WORDS FROM THE NAMES OF ANIMALS

X. WORDS FROM THE NAMES OF PLACES

XI. PICTURES IN WORDS

XII. WORDS FROM NATIONAL CHARACTER

XIII. WORDS MADE BY WAR

XIV. PROVERBS

XV. SLANG

XVI. WORDS WHICH HAVE CHANGED THEIR MEANING

XVII. DIFFERENT WORDS WITH THE SAME MEANING, AND THE SAME WORDS WITH DIFFERENT MEANINGS

XVIII. NICE WORDS FOR NASTY THINGS

XIX. THE MORAL OF THESE STORIES

STORIES THAT WORDS TELL US.

CHAPTER I.

SOME STORIES OF BRITISH HISTORY TOLD FROM ENGLISH WORDS.

Nearly all children must remember times when a word they know quite well and use often has suddenly seemed very strange to them. Perhaps they began repeating the word half to themselves again and again, and wondered why they had never noticed before what a queer word it is. Then generally they have forgotten all about it, and the next time they have used the word it has not seemed strange at all.

But as a matter of fact words are very strange things. Every word we use has its own story, and has changed, sometimes many times since some man or woman or child first used it. Some words are very old and some are quite new, for every living language that is, every language used regularly by some nation is always growing, and having new words added to it. The only languages which do not grow in this way are the "dead" languages which were spoken long ago by nations which are dead too.

Latin is a "dead" language. When it was spoken by the old Romans it was, of course, a living language, and grew and changed; but though it is a very beautiful language, it is no longer used as the regular speech of a nation, and so does not change any more.

But it is quite different with a living language. Just as a baby when it begins to speak uses only a few words, and learns more and more as it grows older, so nations use more words as they grow older and become more and more civilized. Savages use only a few words, not many more, perhaps, than a baby, and not as many as a child belonging to a civilized nation. But the people of great civilizations like England and France use many thousands of words, and the more educated a person is the more words he is able to choose from to express his thoughts.

We do not know how the first words which men and women spoke were made. People who study the history of languages, and who are called Philologists , or "Lovers of Words," say that words may have come to be used in any one of three different ways; but of course this is only guessing, for though we know a great deal about the way words and languages grow, we do not really know how they first began. Some people used to think that the earliest men had a language all ready made for them, but this could not be. We know at least that the millions of words in use in the world to day have grown out of quite a few simple sounds or "root" words. Every word we use contains a story about some man or woman or child of the past or the present... Continue reading book >>




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