Finding the #Write #Words? Post 29: The Grouchy Grammarian

Continuing the description of books on words and language listed in the introductory post, which you’ll find here.

Book 29: The Grouchy Grammarian

Paperback, 186 pages. Published in 2003 by BCA. This is the edition I own and appears to be the current one. You can buy it new in paperback for £9.95, Used from £3.18 and in a Kindle version for £14.53.

That it’s subtitled ‘A How-Not-To Guide to the 47 Most Common Mistakes in English Made by Journalists, Broadcasters, and Others Who Should Know Better’, should give you an idea of the tone and purpose behind the book.

Opened at random at pages 80/81 I come upon ‘The Intrusive Of’ {19}.

The number in brackets is this item’s place in the list of 47.

This chapter deals with an issue I’ve always disliked with a passion, which is rather fortuitous. As a British English speaker, that this is mostly American abuse of the language, helps deaden that passion a little. Here’s the opening sentence:

‘Whether it should be blamed on teenagers or it arose from some other group’s willfulness, a wholly unnecessary of keeps popping up in otherwise respectable sentences.’

The author, Thomas Parrish, then goes on to quote examples, one of which I’ll use to illustrate his point.

He cites a CNN weather forecaster stating ‘…the snow shouldn’t be that big of a factor.’ And, in a later example of what should’ve been said, he tells us that the forecaster need only say, ‘…the snow shouldn’t be a big factor.’

He goes on to explain the proper usage for of, including its errant absence. For reasons unclear, he doesn’t appear to be exercised by what I find its most irritating use ‘off of’. Recognising the danger of sounding as pompous as the Grouchy Grammarian, I’ll admit this particular combination usually leads me to believe the perpetrator is ill-educated, except when it’s used in dialogue, of course!

This is a book that can be read, rather than simply used as a work of reference. Its style is amusing and will allow those who are constantly irritated by bad grammar to feel part of a community.

English is a complex language, made up of words from many countries, and borrows rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from the originating lands, which can make it interestingly familiar to learners but also frequently frustratingly baffling to the same students.

Those learning the English Language will find help on pronunciation here. And you’ll find a friendly group on Facebook through this link.

And, for those with a real interest in English and considering their future, here’s a link that suggests the many possible career opportunities open to those with a degree in the subject. It’s also a link to an online university, and therefore an advert for their services. I know nothing of the institution, but the list of possible career choices might be useful.

Earlier posts in the series can be found by clicking on the titles below.

2. A Dictionary of Misunderstood Misused Mispronounced Words.
3. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.
4. A Miscellany for Word Lovers.
6. A Dictionary of Rhyming Slang.
7. Brit-think, American-think.
8. Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors.
9. Collins English Dictionary.
10. Current English Usage.
11. Descriptionary; a Thematic Dictionary.
12. Divided by a Common Language.
13. Eats Shoots & Leaves.
14. English Prepositional Idioms.
15. Fowler’s Modern English Usage.
16. Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers.
17. Hartrampf’s Vocabulary Builder.
18. i before e (except after c).
19. Longman Companion to English Literature.
20. New Hart’s Rules.
21. New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms.
22. Oxford Compact Thesaurus.
23. Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English.
24. Roget’s Thesaurus.
25. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
26. The Dictionary of Diseased English.
27. The Elements of Style
28. The Emotion Thesaurus.

‘Likes’ are lovely, and appreciated, but shares to the likes of Twitter, Facebook, etc are more productive in spreading the word. Thank you!

2 thoughts on “Finding the #Write #Words? Post 29: The Grouchy Grammarian

    1. Of the books so far listed, David, (another 9 to come!), I mostly use Roget’s Thesaurus, and the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. I don’t know that I have a favourite, as such, because many of them have a fairly specific purpose. I just love books about our rich and subtle language, I guess.

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