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Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Languageby Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
Do you cringe when a talking head pronounces “niche” as NITCH? Do you get bent out of shape when your teenager begins a sentence with “and,” or says “octopuses” instead of “octopi”? Do you think British spellings are more “civilised” than the American versions? Would you bet the bank that “jeep” got its start as a military term and “SOS” as an acronym for “Save Our Ship”? If you answered yes to any of those questions, youre myth-informed. Go stand in the corner-and read this book!
In Origins of the Specious, word mavens Patricia T. OConner and Stewart Kellerman explode the misconceptions that have led generations of language lovers astray. They reveal why some of grammars best-known “rules” arent-and never were-rules at all. They explain how Brits and Yanks wound up speaking the same language so differently, and why British English isnt necessarily purer. This playfully witty yet rigorously researched book sets the record straight about bogus word origins, politically correct fictions, phony français, fake acronyms, and more. English is an endlessly entertaining, ever-changing language, and yesterdays blooper could be tomorrows bon mot-or vice versa! Here are some shockers: “They” was once commonly used for both singular and plural, much the way “you” is today. And an eighteenth-century female grammarian, of all people, is largely responsible for the all-purpose “he.” The authors take us wherever myths lurk, from the Queens English to street slang, from Miss Grundys admonitions to four-letter unmentionables. This eye-opening romp will be the toast of grammarphiles and the salvation of grammarphobes. Take our word for it.
"Bestselling word maven O'Conner (Woe Is I) is that rare grammarian who values clear, natural expression over the mindless application of rules. In her latest compendium, she debunks the hoariest of false strictures, many of them concocted by evil latter-day pedants seeking to bind the supple English tongue with the fetters of Latinate grammar. A preposition, she proclaims, is a fine thing to end a sentence with. To deftly split an infinitive is no crime to her. And starting a sentence with a conjunction gets her approval, as well as Shakespeare's. Other misconceptions she targets include the idea that 'woman' has a sexist etymology and that the British speak a purer form of English than do Americans,. Ranging through the history of English from Beowulf to the latest neologisms, the author accepts change in a democratic spirit; proper English, she contends, is what the majority of us say it is (though she can't resist making a traditionalist plea to preserve favored words like 'unique' and 'ironic' from corruption). Writers will appreciate O'Conner's liberating, common-sense approach to the language, and readers the entertaining sprightliness of her prose." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This witty and informative book debunks myths that bamboozle word-loving fansand offers a delightful primer on the eccentricities of the English language.288 pp.
About the Author
Patricia T. OConner, a former editor at The New York Times Book Review, has written four books on language and writing-the bestselling Woe Is I: The Grammarphobes Guide to Better English in Plain English; Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing; Woe Is I Jr.: The Younger Grammarphobes Guide to Better English in Plain English; and You Send Me: Getting It Right When You Write Online.
Stewart Kellerman has been an editor at The New York Times and a foreign correspondent for UPI in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. He co-authored You Send Me with his wife, Patricia T. OConner, and he runs their website and blog at grammarphobia.com. They live in rural Connecticut.
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