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Posted January 10, 2010
H.W. Fowler's, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, "Edited" by David Crystal. What a disappointment!
Exactly what did David Crystal "edit"? I note with great interest that the spine of the dust jacket says "Edited" while the cover observes with greater veracity that only a new introduction and "notes" were contributed. I scanned the book for quite a few minutes before relegating it to my useless pile, finally realizing that the only "notes" are those in the back, which, apparently, if you read the publisher's sales puffery, double as the "concluding section" of the book in which Prof. Crystal "examines" over 300 entries.
More importantly, the title of the original Fowler work, by definition, grows more misleading with each passing year. Fowler's writing is so dated it is difficult for a "modern" English speaker or writer to glean useful usage information from it. His examples seem to be so frequently in the negative that it can be extremely difficult to distinguish proper usage from im-.
As a piece of history, you may want this book on your shelf. As a primary source of proper usage information, don't waste your money or your time.
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