Books, writing, reading, words and images. I love them; do you?

Finding the #Write #Words? No.1

For a few years I’ve been posting about word choice here. It seems timely to let you know the sources for the information and ideas I’ve presented. Before I started writing seriously, which preceded mobile phones, personal computers, and even electronic typewriters, I developed an interest in words: a fascination for the huge variety of words available and the way in which the English Language has stolen from other languages to form a vocabulary capable of great subtlety. I then began to buy books that took word usage and choice as their topics.

Below, is a list of books I now own on the subject; a small personal library. 36 titles are listed here. They range in size from the petite softback ‘American English English American’, at 47 pages, to the weighty, hardback, two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary with its 3,743 pages. In price, the cheapest was the free Reader’s Digest ‘As Others See Us’ with its pithy comments on how other lands view the British, many dealing with the meanings of certain words and expressions. The most expensive single volume was ‘A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English’, for which I paid, way back in the 1980s, £47.50. The ‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary’, currently available for around £68.00, I was fortunate enough to snatch away from the reaching hands of another wordsmith, in a sale at W.H.Smiths, for the bargain price of £30.00. His look of regret almost allowed my altruism to capitulate to his want, but the words bullied me into hanging onto the bargain.

These books are far more valuable than mere price could ever indicate, of course. When editing my work, I seek the best possible word to convey as accurately as I can the feeling, location, appearance, motivation, mood, or whatever aspect of the story I’m describing. These books are priceless during such work.

Other volumes give guidance on aspects of English grammar, syntax, and structure that are sometimes misunderstood or unknown to many of us. I was fortunate enough to be schooled at a time when teachers in the UK taught about different parts of speech, the structure of a sentence, the nature of a paragraph. Of course, this undoubtedly stultified the creative output of some students, so overwhelmed by rules they were too inhibited to give free reign to self-expression. Again, I was lucky in that my English teacher, an attractive young Irish woman with a penchant for low-cut blouses that inevitably drew complete attention from teenage boys, was able to balance ‘correct usage’ with ‘effective usage’.

In this series of posts, I intend to describe, and briefly review, the books listed below, one at a time, so other writers can decide whether they want them on their own reference shelves. That will start with next week’s post and I hope will prove useful to all readers here.

A Dictionary of Misunderstood Misused Mispronounced Words

A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English

A Miscellany for Word Lovers

American English English American

As Others See Us

Brit-Think/Ameri-Think

Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors

Collins English Dictionary

Current English Usage

Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary

Divided by a Common Language

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

English Language

English Prepositional Idioms

Fowler’s Modern English Usage

Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers

Hartrampf’s Vocabulary Builder

I Before E (except after c)

Longman Companion to English Literature

Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms

Oxford Compact Thesaurus

Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English

Roget’s Thesaurus

Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2 Volumes)

The Dictionary of Diseased English

The Elements of Style

The Emotion Thesaurus

The Grouchy Grammarian

The Last Word

The Little Red Writing Book

The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors

The Oxford Manual of Style

The Oxford Spelling Dictionary

The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary

The Synonym Finder

Usage and Abusage

Please feel free to share this post (the buttons below make it easy), comment, and/or reblog it, so we reach as many writers as possible. Thanks.

4 Responses to “Finding the #Write #Words? No.1”

  1. Tom Austin

    Reblogged this on Abitsa and commented:
    This post was written by one of Britain’s greatest wordsmiths Stuart Aken. For the last few years he has taken us on a journey about words that are difficult to pronounce, misused, abused, or simply misunderstood. Of all the titles mentioned my favorite is “The Grouchy Grammarian”. He has used this title among others in search of “just the right word”. Take it away Prof. Higgins…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Tom Austin

    This post was written by one of Britain’s greatest wordsmiths Stuart Aken. For the last few years he has taken us on a journey about words that are difficult to pronounce, misused, abused, or simply misunderstood. Of all the titles mentioned my favorite is “The Grouchy Grammarian”. He has used this title among others in search of “just the right word”. Take it away Prof. Higgins…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      Thank you, Tom. Ironically, I find myself lost for words! Glad to have been of use to the writing community. Sharing my love of language is a pleasure.

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: