QUICK REVIEW: The Etymologicon
'The Etymologicon: a Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language', by Mark Forsyth, Icon Books, R199
The Etymologicon , by English man of letters and blogger Mark Forsyth, aka "The Inky Fool", is, quite simply, brilliant.
Like all great raconteurs he focuses on the connection between words in a meandering but entirely logical stream which is as entertaining as it is intriguing.
For example, turkeys are so named because they resemble the helmeted guinea fowl which were imported by Turkish traders and so became known as "Turkeys": since the American turkey looked like and tasted like the guinea fowl, they were assumed to be the same bird, hence the name. When people "talk turkey" however, it has nothing to do with the bird or with Turkish, but is connected with some amazingly unfunny 19th-century American joke regarding an Indian, a turkey and a buzzard.
Fascinating stuff and impossible to stop once started because - as the title suggests - the interconnectivity of our language is circular and the only end is when, all too soon, the last page is reached.