|About the Book|
This is the 2014 update of the 2009 second edition. Some citations have been replaced with more recent, more concise and/or more entertaining ones. Also, hyperlinks have been installed on the Contents page to make access to the entries moreMoreThis is the 2014 update of the 2009 second edition. Some citations have been replaced with more recent, more concise and/or more entertaining ones. Also, hyperlinks have been installed on the Contents page to make access to the entries more convenient. c. 500 pages. Word count: 103,634.English Like It Is is not a comprehensive usage guide. It focuses on changing usage (such as “like” in the title) and persistent errors, with occasional anomalies (see Miscellaneous Errors) included as warnings and for their entertainment value. The citations that illustrate the more than 350 entries come mainly from the four British Sunday “broadsheets” -- The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Observer and The Independent on Sunday -- and The Irish Times, between 1994 and the present. Eighty-nine books and other publications are also quoted for comparison, and 54 usage guides and dictionaries are cited as authorities or examples of obsolete or bad advice. Where American usage differs from UK usage, note is taken of the variations. Irish usage generally follows that of the UK.Why single out the newspapers? For two reasons: first, as Robert Burchfield pointed out in his Preface to The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage (NFMEU, 1996), Henry Fowler, in his ground-breaking Dictionary of Modern English Usage (MEU, 1926), took many of his examples of incorrect usage from newspapers “because they reflected and revealed the solecistic waywardness of ‘the half-educated’ general public in a much more dramatic fashion than did works of English literature.” But perhaps more important, as the American critic Jacques Barzun said, “The predominant fault of the bad English encountered today is not the crude vulgarism of the untaught but the blithe irresponsibility of the taught” (“English As She’s Not Taught”, 1953).When incorrect usage drives out correct usage, the language is impoverished through Contraction and Bleaching. For example, “beg the question” has a precise meaning – assume the acceptance of an unproved premise – but the term is rarely applied now to that concept. It is used almost exclusively for “raise/pose the question”. The proper meaning has been lost to all but the logician and the trained debater, and so the language has contracted through the loss of its ability to succinctly express the concept of “beg the question”.Bleaching has levelled “hallmark” into a synonym for “characteristic sign”, ignoring its meaning of “seal of excellence”. “Archetype” is now defined as “typical example” or “prototype”, obliterating the sense of the non-physical “hypothetical and irrepresentable model” that it was to Jung and his predecessors as far back as the 17th century.As in a workshop where all the craftsmen use the same tools in common, writers and editors have a special responsibility to keep their common tool, the language, in good working order by not blunting or breaking it through misuse.