A Dictionary of Modern English Usage: The Classic First Edition

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OUP Oxford, Sep 10, 2009 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 784 pages
24 Reviews
No book had more influence on twentieth-century attitudes to the English language in Britain than Henry Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. It rapidly became the standard work of reference for the correct use of English in terms of choice of words, grammar, and style. Much loved for his firm opinions, passion, and dry humour, Fowler has stood the test of time and is still considered the best arbiter of good practice. Now one of today's leading experts on thelanguage, David Crystal, has reassessed Fowler's contribution in this fascinating new edition.Crystal goes beyond the popular mythology surrounding Fowler's reputation to retrace his method and practice and arrive at a fresh evaluation of his place in the history of linguistic thought. With a wealth of entertaining examples he looks at Fowler's stated principles and the tensions between his prescriptive and descriptive temperaments. He reaches some surprising conclusions and shows that the Dictionary does a great deal more than make normative recommendations and expressprivate opinions. In addition he offers a modern perspective in notes on some 300 entries, in which he shows how English has changed since the 1920s, including the pronunciation of certain words.

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Review: A Dictionary of Modern English Usage

User Review  - Richard Epstein - Goodreads

A dangerous book to consult. Many, many times I have picked it up to check something specific, only to find out, an instant later, that 30 minutes have passed, and I am still reading. James Patterson should write such riveting prose. Read full review

Review: A Dictionary of Modern English Usage

User Review  - John E. Branch Jr. - Goodreads

Learned in a way that'll seem arcane to some people nowadays, but for me this is priceless. Read full review

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About the author (2009)


David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Bangor, and the author of many books on language in general and the English language in particular, such as The Stories of English (2004), The Fight for English (2006), and Think on My Words: Exploring Shakespeare's Language (2008). His previous lexicographical work includes A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics (6th edn, 2008) and Johnson's Dictionary: an Anthology (2005).

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