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On Language af William Safire

On Language (original 1980; udgave 1981)

af William Safire (Forfatter), Vincent Torre (Designer)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
306266,582 (3.91)9
Titel:On Language
Forfattere:William Safire (Forfatter)
Andre forfattere:Vincent Torre (Designer)
Info:Times Books (c.1980), Fourth Printing
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

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On Langauge af William Safire (1980)


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An old collection of William Safire's New York Times columns on English words and their correct usage, most of which also feature short letters of feedback from his readers.

The question of what, exactly, constitutes "proper English" and who gets to define it can be a hugely contentious one. Personally, I believe that having and following rules (or having rules and breaking them judiciously) is a fairly important thing when it comes to communicating smoothly and effectively, and that people who wr1te liek, this!!! can't really be said to be behaving in a particularly civilized fashion. On the other hand, I have a vanishingly small amount of patience for people who try to impose arbitrary and ill-fitting rules on language, deride any usage they haven't known since childhood as barbarous, and get their kicks by wagging their fingers gleefully at their supposed linguistic inferiors. Safire makes an attempt to avoid being one of those second kind, but he does nevertheless tend to wander back and forth across the boundary of what I consider to be annoying prescriptivism. He's still interesting, though, and often entertaining to read, and I have come away from this thinking a little harder -- perhaps even a little too self-consciously -- about my own word choices.

Somewhat surprisingly, the fact that this was published in 1980 and consists of material written in the 70's actually makes it more worth reading rather than less. It was sort of fascinating to see what words and phrases he reports as being new and strange now seem perfectly ordinary and unremarkable, which have long since disappeared without trace, and which just feel old-fashioned. ( )
2 stem bragan | Dec 8, 2011 |
In my library this is one of the books that I would grab if the house caught fire. On Language was also the name of the weekly New York Times column where Safire wrote essays about grammar, syntax, and usage of the English language. I have re-read favorite essays many times. Here's his partial list of his never-say-neverism:

*Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
*Don't use no double negatives.
*Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate, and never where it isn't.
*Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed.
*Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
*Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

His audience was well educated and responded even to small details. In his essay on coffee idioms, Safire reported a statistic on daily coffee consumption on a winter's day. Someone challenged him:

"Dear Mr. Safire....By the way, do Americans really drink 460 million cups a day? Even if half the country consumes coffee that would be four and a half cups per person each day. Does our country seem that awake to you?"

Many complain that English is complex, inconsistent, and mysterious. William Safire turned language study into playtime. ( )
  lisacronista | Sep 30, 2009 |
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