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The Language Wars

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


The English language is a battlefield. Since the age of Shakespeare, arguments over correct usage have been acrimonious, and those involved have always really been contesting values - to do with morality, politics and class.

THE LANGUAGE WARS examines the present state of the conflict, its history and its future. Above all, it uses the past as a way of illuminating the present. Moving chronologically, the book explores the most persistent issues to do with English and unpacks the history of 'proper' usage. Where did these ideas spring from? Which of today's bugbears and annoyances are actually venerable? Who has been on the front line in the language wars?

THE LANGUAGE WARS examines grammar rules, regional accents, swearing, spelling, dictionaries, political correctness, and the role of electronic media in reshaping language. It also takes a look at such niggling concerns as the split infinitive, elocution and text messaging. Peopled with intriguing characters such as Jonathan Swift, H. W. Fowler and George Orwell as well as the more disparate figures of Lewis Carroll, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lenny Bruce, THE LANGUAGE WARS is an essential volume for anyone interested in the state of the English language today or intrigued about its future.

From Publishers Weekly

29 August 2011 – Hitchings (The Secret Life of Words), theater critic for London s Evening Standard, explores the history of arguments about English, from Chaucer to Lenny Bruce. There are endless debates over proper usage, but what is proper? The self-appointed guardians of good usage can be irate: Just ask the language professors who have received hate mail for refusing to take a stand against split infinitives. (Hitchings himself defends the familiar Star Trek opening: The assonance of to boldly go is more striking not only because of its rhythm, but also because it s less compressed than that of to go boldly . ) Hitchings examines such topics as dialects, diction, double negatives, word purists, grammatical rules, regional accents, obscenity laws, text messaging, and prescriptive books such as The Elements of Style: A great deal of what it has to say looks quaint now.... Its continued success owes much to a refusal to be modern. This insightful look at the evolution of English overflows with entertaining historical anecdotes. It also serves as a fine contemporary usage guidebook.
The Language Wars
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  • £7.49
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Published: 03 February 2011
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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