The author of Reading the OED presents an eye-opening look at language “mistakes” and how they came to be accepted as correct—or not.
English is a glorious mess of a language, cobbled together from a wide variety of sources and syntaxes, and changing over time with popular usage. Many of the words and usages we embrace as standard and correct today were at first considered slang, impolite, or just plain wrong.
Whether you consider yourself a stickler, a nitpicker, or a rule-breaker in the know, Bad English is sure to enlighten, enrage, and perhaps even inspire. Filled with historic and contemporary examples, the book chronicles the long and entertaining history of language mistakes, and features some of our most common words and phrases, including:
Lively, surprising, funny, and delightfully readable, this is a book that will settle arguments among word lovers—and it’s sure to start a few, too.
Ammon Shea is the author of Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages, along with Depraved English, Insulting English, and The Phone Book. A dictionary collector, he has worked as a consulting editor of American dictionaries at Oxford University Press. He has also contributed to the “On Language” column in Sunday’s New York Times and has reviewed language books for the New York Times Book Review. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.