BYLINE TIMES & SMALL WORLD TURNING
March 2019 | Beginning this month, I’ll be contributing a regular Word of the Week piece to acclaimed news website Byline Times. The piece will be a weekly summation of the previous seven days’ political developments, centred around a typically obscure and long-forgotten word that—were it to be brought back into current use—would prove especially useful in the current climate. Also this month, acclaimed folk singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore releases her latest album Small World Turning—which features a subtle contribution from Haggard Hawks. Track 7 on the album, Grandam Gold, was inspired by a tweet Thea spotted over on the HH feed.
RADIO 4’S SATURDAY LIVE
October 2018 | Publicity for Around the World in 80 Words continued this month, with an appearance on Radio 4’s popular morning show, Saturday Live. Hosted by Rev Richard Coles and Aasmah Mir, the talk focused on our collective love of language, the strangest etymologies the language has to offer, and what a tiny Czech town has to do with the currency of the United States of America. You can catch up with the show on the BBC website.
YES OR BS
September 2018 | Finally, it has arrived... Something entirely new: the Yes or BS website launched in September 2018, with the first edition of the Yes or BS podcast going live just a few weeks later. With the most frequently-asked question over on the HH Twitter feed still being whether the words tweeted are genuine or not, an idea developed to somehow test the believability of seemingly factual information. Hence, Yes or BS—a brand new blog, game, and podcast in which all is not often as it seems. Is the story you’re reading or hearing true? It’s up to you to decide—from a space project started by Oliver Cromwell’s brother-in-law, to that time Clark Cable saved Lassie from a fire in his trailer. Head to yesorbs.com for more...
THE CABINET OF LINGUISTIC CURIOSITIES: US EDITION
August 2018 | US readers—your long wait is (nearly) over... Following its publication in the UK and beyond in October 2017, a US edition of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities will at long last be published via the University of Chicago Press in Fall 2019! Inspired by the Word of the Day tweets over on the @HaggardHawks Twitter feed, The Cabinet is a yearbook of 366 obscure and long-forgotten words, from quaaltagh and sheep’s-eye to transnivean and mamamouchi. Attached to each etymological tale is a tale from history that ties each word in with each date, making The Cabinet both a linguistic and historical fact book unlike any other. Head to the HH website here for more information, and a sample chapter
THE ALLUSIONIST & RADIO 4’S WORD OF MOUTH
February 2018 | Publicity for The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities and all things Haggard Hawks continued apace into the new year, beginning with a brilliant talk with Helen Zaltzman over on The Allusionist podcast on 26 January 2018. The talk covered everything from President Grant’s “grantist” nepotism to the history and origin of the not-so-presidential word “trump”. That was followed, on 20 February, with an appearance on Michael Rosen’s flagship Radio 4 language program Word of Mouth, talking about everything from resurrecting long-forgotten words to the history and origins of the word transpontine—and how it came to be a personal favourite...
CBC & WORD OF MOUTH
December 2017 | Following the release of The Accidental Dictionary in the United States in October 2017, a raft of interviews followed with Quartz; The Huffington Post and HuffPost Books; WBZ Radio, in Boston, Massachusetts; and WATR’s Talk of the Town show with Steve Noxon. The release of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities in Canada led to a series of high-profile interviews on CBC Radio, beginning with The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti on 5 December (with the full interview available on catch-up here), and followed by an appearance on CBC’s popular Maritime Noon show in Nova Scotia, talking and taking calls with Norma Lee MacLeod.
TWO NEW BOOKS
26 October 2017 | You wait all year for a new book, and then two come along at once... First, the US edition of the acclaimed Accidental Dictionary was published by Pegasus Books on 3 October 2017. The book, which brings together the histories and etymologies of 100 familiar words whose meanings have changed beyond recognition since their first appearance in the language, has received glowing reviews. Second, The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities was published in the UK on 19 October. Bringing together 366 obscure words in an almanac of forgotten language, the Cabinet went on a successful blog tour throughout October and has been profiled on BBC Newcastle and BBC Leeds, and has been very favourably received!
THE ACCIDENTAL DICTIONARY: PUBLICITY & INTERVIEWS
1 November 2016 | Following its release on 13 October 2016, publicity for ‘The Accidental Dictionary’ has continued apace with feature articles in The Guardian, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph, and several radio interviews, including BBC Leeds, BBC Local Radio, talkRADIO London, and the BBC World Service. In October, Paul was also a guest on the excellent Endless Knot podcast, in a thoroughly enjoyable interview that touched on everything from word origins and the benefits of learning Latin at school to second hand bookshops (and second hand dictionaries). Catch up with it, and all the other episodes in the Endless Knot series, over on alliterative.net.
THE ACCIDENTAL DICTIONARY, INSTAGRAM & A NEW HH WEBSITE
14 September 2016 | Lots of news this month, with a new book, new website, and new social media strand all on their way. My fifth book, ‘The Accidental Dictionary’, exploring the unexpected origins of 100 English words, will be released by Elliott & Thompson on 13 October. With thanks to graphic designer Phil Rostron, HH will be spreading its wings over to Instagram in a 31-day project coinciding with World Dictionary Day 2016. And you can now find everything HH—including the blog, and (what will eventually be) all 50 YouTube vidoes—over on the new website, haggardhawks.com, which went live on Septmber 12!
YOUTUBE LANGUAGE EXPERIMENTS
16 February 2016 | So far on HaggardHawks’ YouTube channel, we’ve found out what to call the handle of an auger (‘froofe’) and a sexual attraction to statues (‘iconolagnia’, should you need it). But now there’s something new: alongside the #500Words series, I’m posting some language experiments, the first of which—looking at a bizarre linguistic phenomenon called the McGurk Effect—went online this week. It’s since been picked up by HuffPost’s Science blog and has quickly become the channel’s most popular video overall. Keep an eye on Twitter for all the experiments in this series, including lip-reading, speech-jamming, false memories, and the hardest word to play in a game of Hangman...
#500WORDS PROJECT BEGINS
15 January 2016 | It’s been a long time coming, but the HaggardHawks YouTube channel is now up and running! The first video, 10 Words To Do With Firsts, went live on Thursday 14 January, and the plan is to post a new video—each looking at the origins or meanings of 10 different related words—every Thursday at 8pm (GMT) until the end of the year. 50 weeks; 50 videos; 10 words each; 500 words in all. Coming up are videos to do with Q vs. U, Dickens characters, curse words, and Shakespearean inventions—but there are a few surprises and special videos planned too. Subscribe to the channel and of course keep and eye on Twitter and Facebook to make sure you don’t miss out!
24 December 2015 | With @HaggardHawks turning 2 years old on 10 December 2015 came this quiz, in which 20 tricky HH facts (like ‘the longest English word that’s a Roman numeral’ —clue: it only has three letters) had to be matched to the corresponding words in just 4 minutes...a lot harder than it sounds! The quiz was picked up by The Independent, who profiled it on their puzzles page and followed it up with two articles on the origins of festive words. A list of obscure Christmas words—from ‘hogamadog’ to ‘angel-visits’—was also picked up just before Christmas Eve over at Telegraph Men, and the vocabulary-building A-to-Z lists continue over on Mental Floss with K and U.
MENTAL FLOSS A-Z
4 December 2015 | It’s been a busy few months! The US edition of Word Drops is now signed off and ready to go to print ahead of its release in spring 2016. The HaggardHawks Twitter account reached the 14K milestone in November, meaning the fifth quiz went live on the HH blog. December 10 is the HaggardHawks two year anniversary, for which there’s a new quiz on its way. New articles are due to go live on BuzzFeed and the i100 in the run up to Christmas, and via Mental Floss there’s a vocabulary-building A to Z of weird words going online, one letter at a time, over the next 26 weeks. Q, Z, X, J and V are all online already, and the K and B lists are on their way...
13,000 FOLLOWERS, BUZZFEED, AND WATERSTONES
30 September 2015 | Word Drops has continued to attract some great publicity online this month, beginning with two articles for BuzzFeed UK—the first of which, 53 random facts taken straight from the book, attracted more than 250,000 views in two days. On the back of that, the HaggardHawks Twitter feed flew past the 13,000 mark on 29 September (barely three weeks since it reached the 12K milestone). And on the same day that the new HH quiz went live (on the newly-redecorated HH blog), the Waterstones blog hosted my list of words and phrases derived from mistranslations, tying in with International Translation Day.
10,000 FOLLOWERS AND THE MOST POPULAR TWEET...EVER
9 July 2015 | Amazingly, on 17 June @HaggardHawks added its 10,000th follower. To celebrate, I put together a tricky word quiz over on the HH blog here, which has gone so well I’m planning on doing similar games for every 1000 followers from now on...keep an eye on Twitter for more details to come. Not only that, but on 5 July, all the HH Twitter records were broken with this tweet on an obscure term from 19th century ecology—there’s a full explanation of that over on the blog too.
BOOKSHOP CORNER IN THE TELEGRAPH
30 May 2015 | Following on from its coverage on Radio 4, on Saturday 30 May Word Drops was profiled in The Telegraph’s Bookshop Corner, alongside a Q&A with me. You can read the interview and find out more on the Telegraph Books website, here. Word Drops has also recently been profiled in Woman’s Own magazine, and Elliott & Thompson are currently running a competition to win a signed copy—details on the E&T website, here.
MORE PUBLICITY FOR WORD DROPS
13 May 2015 | In the run up to the General Election on 7 May, Radio 4’s flagship World At One programme featured some soundbites of me discussing the origins of political words—you can take a look at one of the results here. The brilliant writer and historian Greg Jenner also kindly mentioned Word Drops on his Twitter feed, and there was a guest blog about dictionaries (and how they can go wrong) over on the Foyles Bookshop website. And coming up soon: an interview and special offer through The Telegraph bookshop...
WORD DROPS PUBLICITY PICKS UP
13 April 2015 | With Word Drops on its way in just a few days, word of the book (no pun intended) is spreading far and wide online... There have been mentions on Twitter by the poet and presenter Ian McMillan; Bloomberg journalists Robert Hutton, John Rentoul and Stig Abell; and the i100, the social media arm of The Independent, have picked their fifteen favourite facts for a new post — one of which has to do with carrots. The author of that article, Samuel Osborne, has also picked out 25 of his favourite facts on his blog here.
PRAISE FOR @HAGGARDHAWKS
5 March 2015 | Last summer, @HaggardHawks was singled out Mental Floss as one of the best language Twitter accounts. Then in September, publishing blog Wise Ink named @HaggardHawks their “personal favourite” account for word lovers. And now, the lovely people at Tech Republic have named @HaggardHawks as one of the Top 10 Geekiest Twitter Accounts—alongside the CIA, the Mars Curiosity Rover and Wil Wheaton. Truly, there is no higher honour...
NEW HAGGARDHAWKS BLOG
25 February 2015 | It’s been a long time coming, but the new HaggardHawks blog lauches today and you can take a look at it here. Updated weekly, the plan is to use the blog to flesh out some of the bare facts that go up on the @HaggardHawks feed and to answer any questions and queries raised on Twitter. Make sure to keep an eye out for some more exciting news soon, but in the meantime, remember HaggardHawks can still be found on Twitter, Medium, Tumblr, HuffPost Books and Mental Floss!
THE NEW DAILY PROFILE
21 December 2014 | Thanks to Jackson Stiles for getting in touch on Twitter and putting together a great profile of me and @HaggardHawks for the excellent The New Daily website over in Australia. You can read the original article—including some of the history of @HaggardHawks and forty choice facts from the Twitter feed—here.
MOST SHARED STORY OF 2014
5 December 2014 | Really happy to say that my A to Z of Noah Websters most shared story of the year, with more than 60,000 shares on Facebook alone, and nearly a quarter of a million likes. You can check out HuffPost Books most unusual words, written for World Dictionary Day in October, has ended up being HuffPost Books full list of their most viral articles of 2014 here, and read the original A to Z here.
JEDBURGH JUSTICE ON BUZZFEED
25 September 2014 | So BuzzFeed took some of the entries from Jedburgh Justice—specifically those from a chapter about expressions of drunkenness—and teamed them up with pictures from the tragically hilarious Twitter feed @CrapTaxidermy. And the results are, well, brilliant. Grab yourself a stiff drink and take a look here.
ELLIOTT & THOMPSON
27 August 2014 | Really happy to announce that Elliott & Thompson have bought the rights to my fourth book, Nothing Rhymes With Orange, for release in the UK early next year. This next book is a collection of 1,000 of the best facts and language trivia from the Haggard Hawks Twitter feed, plus a few choice anecdotes from literary history—including Samuel Johnson's all-day drinking session and Samuel Pepys's cure for a hangover. The exact details of the book are still being thrashed out down in London, but all being well you can expect Book Number 4 sometime in Spring 2015...
15 August 2014 | Incredibly @HaggardHawks has just added its 5,000th follower on Twitter! The account has grown steadily week by week since I started it on 10 December 2013 (and was really helped along byMental Floss in June), but even still this feels like a very unexpected and very flattering milestone. You can visit and follow @HaggardHawks here, but if you're already involved keep your eyes peeled for some more exciting news on the way soon.
11 August 2014 | I have a new website. But you already knew that because you're on it. So, take a look around, make yourself at home, and ignore any spelling mistakes. Hopefully you're also already following me on Twitter, and when they add a twenty-fifth hour to the day, there'll be a Haggard Hawks blog to read as well...
28 July 2014 | Very happy to announce that following my last three articles for their website, the lovely people at Mental Floss have asked me to contribute a weekly article from now on. I'm a huge Mental Floss fan so (without getting too brown-nosy about it) as you can imagine I'm really very excited and genuinely flattered to be working with them more regularly. Keep an eye on the Haggard Hawks Twitter feed—or of course the brilliant Mental Floss website—for more details.
JEDBURGH JUSTICE & KENTISH FIRE
1 July 2014 | As you'll have seen from the homepage, those marvellous people over at Constable & Robinson are publishing my new book, Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire, in October 2014, and if you look to your left now you can see the splendid green-tinged cover. (I don't know about you, but I always think a gibbet and a hangman's noose sets a book cover off a treat.) Jedburgh is the follow up to last year's Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons and will focus on the origins of phrases and sayings when it's released on October 16 – World Dictionary Day. Find out more about it on the Books page here.