Alex Horne - Wordwatching (3 stars)

Alex Horne - Wordwatching

(Virgin Books)

Alex Horne is a true logophile. He’s a lover of words, especially rare words, like ‘logophile’, that seldom make it into dictionaries. Or ‘bollo’, ‘pratdigger’ and ‘mental safari’, his own recent coinages that the comedian has been trying to propel into common usage by any (borderline illegal) means, posterity in the OED his ultimate goal. Like Dave Gorman, Horne’s various comedy projects on Latin, birdwatching and trying to meet all the world’s nationalities, have begun to beget and cross-pollinate each other, and he’s used every publicity platform available to him to plant his wordseeds including, it transpires, The List.

Notwithstanding the entertaining finale of his Countdown appearance, it’s the amorphous, absorbing qualities of English that impress most, and while this is lightweight compared to Melvyn Bragg and Bill Bryson’s popular tomes on language, there’s an enjoyable audacity to Horne’s approach that extends to spreading lies about himself and Natasha Kaplinsky.

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