The Daily Mail had an article today (here) on David Crystal's new book -- The Story of English in 100 Words. The book contains lots of snippets from different areas of language study, according to the article. So, differences in British English and American English are considered (eg, aerial/antenna, petrol/gas), the Old Norse legacy (eg in words such as skirt, yard and kirk), posh and common words (lavatory vs toilet) and the changing fortunes and meanings of individual words (eg twitter and text). The Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf is also discussed in the book, and Crystal notes that its first word Hwaet, literally 'what' although used at the time as a way of getting attention, became the 'What ho' uttered by Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster.
There is a chapter on swearing and on words which appeared for the first time in William Tyndale's translation of the Bible in 1525, Shakespeare's works and the works of Shakespeare's contemporary Thomas Nashe (who gave us conundrum, grandiloquent, multifarious and balderdash).
Here's the article/review.
On a completely different topic, does anyone know how someone can arrange to have my blog posts delivered to their email? I was contacted by a reader who wanted to subscribe but couldn't get the Subscribe link to work. I have no knowledge of technical matters at all, nor do I have a Facebook, Twitter or similar account to use as a distribution method. If anyone can give advice, please reply below, or privately to my email address, which is virtuallinguist, all one word, and then googlemail.com. Thanks.