The Wonder of Whiffling

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about a book called Toujours Tingo by, as I said then and will repeat now, the splendidly named Adam Jacot de Boinod. The book, a sequel to The Meaning of Tingo, trawls the world’s languages for the wise, witty and inconsequential, gathering, among other gems, such terms as chapponage – the act of sliding a finger into a chicken’s backside to see if it is laying an egg – and womba – the smile of a sleeping child.


Well, Mr Jacot de Bionod has done it again. His new book, entitled The Wonder of Whiffling is a mine, once more, of the kind of information you never imagined you needed and, once it’s acquired, will wonder how you lived without.

To put you in the mood, here are three questions that only this book can answer:


A parnel is:
a) a species of seabird
b) a priest’s mistress
c) the lining of a cassock

To call pigs to their food, a 19th century Irish farmer would say
a) hurrish
b) pleck-pleck
c) poa poa

An applesquire is
a) the son of a cider-maker
b) an orchard’s bookkeeper
c) the male servant of a prostitute

If you’d like the know the answers to these, along with a host of other lexical wonders, I wholeheartedly recommend The Wonder of Whiffling.

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