By Patricia T. O'Conner

ISBN-10: 1400066603

ISBN-13: 9781400066605

Do you flinch while a speaking head proclaims “niche” as NITCH? Do you get bent out of form whilst your teen starts a sentence with “and,” or says “octopuses” rather than “octopi”? Do you're thinking that British spellings are extra “civilised” than the yank types? may you guess the financial institution that “jeep” acquired its commence as an army time period and “SOS” as an acronym for “Save Our Ship”? for those who responded certain to any of these questions, you’re myth-informed. cross stand within the corner–and learn this book!

In Origins of the Specious, observe professionals Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman explode the misconceptions that experience led generations of language fanatics off track. They display why a few of grammar’s best-known “rules” aren’t–and by no means were–rules in any respect. They clarify how Brits and Yanks wound up talking an identical language so otherwise, and why British English isn’t inevitably purer. This playfully witty but conscientiously researched e-book units the checklist immediately approximately bogus be aware origins, politically right fictions, phony français, pretend acronyms, and extra. English is an eternally enjoyable, ever-changing language, and yesterday’s blooper may be tomorrow’s bon mot–or vice versa! listed here are a few shockers: “They” was generic for either singular and plural, a lot the best way “you” is this day. And an eighteenth-century girl grammarian, of every body, is basically chargeable for the all-purpose “he.” The authors take us anywhere myths lurk, from the Queen’s English to road slang, from pass over Grundy’s admonitions to four-letter unmentionables. This eye-opening romp could be the toast of grammarphiles and the salvation of grammarphobes. Take our note for it.

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Extra info for Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language

Example text

And we have another Englishman to thank for it: the poet, playwright, and critic John Dryden. In a 1672 essay, Dryden boasted that the writing of his day was better than that of the previous generation, which included such turkeys as Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. He said the Bard’s plays were either “grounded on impossibilities” or “so meanly written” that the comedy wasn’t comic and the drama wasn’t dramatic. ” So there! As for Jonson, Dryden sneered at the “false construction,” “ill syntax,” and “meanness of expression” in his plays.

Yeah, yeah,” Morgenbesser muttered from the audience. I wonder what he would have said about the old “rule” that a double negative is never right. Never say never? The biggest problem with this taboo is that not all double negatives are incorrect. That one, for example. There’s nothing wrong with using two negatives together to say something positive (“I can’t not buy these Ferragamos”) or to straddle the fence (“He’s not unintelligent”). So anybody who says all double negatives are bad is badly informed.

So here comes an abridged version of the many differences between British and American orthography (the art of proper spelling, from the Greek orthos for “straight” and graphein for “write”). The story of “color/colour,” “honor/honour,” “labor/labour,” “vigor/vigour,” and similar words is anything but straight. The spellings have zigged and zagged over the years between the Latin ending -or and the Norman French -our. In fact, Shakespeare flip-flopped on this, using “honor” and “honour,” “humor” and “humour,” and so on.

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Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language by Patricia T. O'Conner


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