The Meaning of Liff - Douglas Adams and John Lloyd

This classic little book reuses place names to give names to all those things and actions which have no word for them. It's charming. The existence of the entries gives much in the way of a feeling of universality - 'oh, you too?', effectively. The naming is generally pretty fun and appropriate. There are a few running jokes and silly cross-references. It's definitely a product of the early eighties, and has a wonderful cultural time-capsule feel. Adams's sense of humour comes across quite clearly in places.

There's a great temptation to start trying to use some of the words in everyday conversation. Indeed, Caroline's been a user of the word 'scosthrop' for some time now. 'Scosthrop (vb.): To make vague opening or cutting movements with the hands when wandering about looking for a tin opener, scissors, etc. in the hope that this will help in some way.'

Posted 2009-06-28.