The Fight for English

The Fight for English

How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left

Book - 2007
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Lynne Truss's 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' injected new life into the long-standing arguments over rights and wrongs in English usage. Now David Crystal brings together his own distinctive style and unique expertise to provide the first thorough-going assessment of the ongoing debate. With a lively, humorous, and accessible approach, Crystal charts the battles past and present, illustrating the characters and attitudes involved from a wide range of written sources. He combines a chronological survey of key influences in the area of usage with discussion of particular themes suchas punctuation, spelling, and pronunciation. And he looks ahead to the future in the context of recent education policy shifts. A positive and compelling case is made for variation in usage of English based on appropriateness of situation, arguing that 'zero tolerance' in relation to language is a profoundly flawed approach. Crystal offers an original and authoritative counter-argument to the prescriptivist agenda that hasbeen expounded in many accounts of English usage over the years. The debate has continued with the recent publication of John Humphrys' 'Beyond Words', and 'The Fight for English' is the book that everyone concerned with English usage should read.
Publisher: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2007.
ISBN: 9780199229697
0199229694
Branch Call Number: 420.9 Cry 3701ma 1
Characteristics: xi, 239 pages ; 19 cm.

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Nov 10, 2018

The clarity of the writing, the friendliness of the explanations, and the perfect organization - marrying chronological development and analytical divisions - make this another terrific book on English by Crystal. His case for the pluralistic view is made strongly but softly, but unfortunately not elaborated on much (what does he recommend about what sort of language to use in each context? how does one recognize which context is which, and what conventions are the appropriate ones? These are issues of pragmatics, the contours of which are constantly being negotiated - but that doesn't mean that it is appropriate to challenge them at all opportunities to do so). His undressing of the tactics of language pundits would be most helpful to everyone learning English (finickyness is the common characteristic of English teachers).

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