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Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language [Kindle Edition]

Patricia T. O'Conner , Stewart Kellerman

Kindle-Preis: EUR 12,14 Inkl. MwSt. und kostenloser drahtloser Lieferung über Amazon Whispernet

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Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

"Every bartender in the land should have a copy of this vastly amusing and highly informative book. Then when some tipsy bore declares that posh derives from Port Out, Starboard Home, or that you must never say disinterested when you mean uninterested, he can bring it out from behind the jar of cocktail cherries, and smack him on the head with it." —Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and The Meaning of Everything

“With common sense and uncommon wit, O'Conner and Kellerman solve more mysteries than all the Law & Order series combined. Origins of the Specious will teach you why it is OK to bravely split an infinitive, why using "ain't" ain't so bad, and why ending a sentence with a preposition is where it's at.”—David Feldman, author of the Imponderables book series

"Origins of the Specious is a witty and informative guide to the perplexities of the English language. I enjoyed it immensely."—Stephen Miller, author of Conversation: A History of a Declining Art and The Peculiar Life of Sundays

“It's right there on page 51: ‘it's better to be understood than to be correct’—pull that out the next time someone corrects your grandma. This tour de force of our beautifully corrupted language is both. And dull it ain't. If you're planning to buy just one book of etymology this year, you've got it right in your hand.”—Garrison Keillor

"Bestselling word maven O'Conner (Woe Is I) is that rare grammarian who values clear, natural expression over the mindless application of rules.…Proper English, she contends, is what the majority of us say it is (though she can't resist making a traditionalist plea to preserve favored words like “unique” and “ironic” from corruption). Writers will appreciate O'Conner's liberating, common-sense approach to the language, and readers the entertaining sprightliness of her prose."—Publishers Weekly

"Happily fresh…Skillfully drawing on the Oxford English Dictionary and other research tools, the writers always present conversational prose with different kinds of wordplays…An accessible tone and full of information."— Library Journal


From the Hardcover edition.

Kurzbeschreibung

Do you cringe when a talking head pronounces “niche” as NITCH? Do you get bent out of shape when your teenager begins a sentence with “and”? Do you think British spellings are more “civilised” than the American versions? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re myth-informed. 

    In Origins of the Specious, word mavens Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman reveal why some of grammar’s best-known “rules” aren’t—and never were—rules at all. This playfully witty, rigorously researched book sets the record straight about bogus word origins, politically correct fictions, phony français, fake acronyms, and more. Here are some shockers: “They” was once commonly used for both singular and plural, much the way “you” is today. And an eighteenth-century female grammarian, of all people, is largely responsible for the all-purpose “he.” From the Queen’s English to street slang, this eye-opening romp will be the toast of grammarphiles and the salvation of grammarphobes. Take our word for it.

Produktinformation

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 575 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 266 Seiten
  • Verlag: Random House (25. April 2009)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B0027MJTWO
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #593.897 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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29 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Terrific on all counts 11. Mai 2009
Von G. G. Urban - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Another great offering from my favorite grammar maven, once again teaming up with her husband Stewart. The writing, as one expects from this duo, proceeds apace with wit and insight, dispelling a myth here and granting permission there. I was so relieved to know that I can split my infinitives at will and end my sentences with a preposition - and that I am in superbly historic linguistic company when I do. The word and phrase origins are fascinating. I guarantee this one will settle more than a few late night arguments - best to keep it right by the bed - or behind the bar.
16 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The best for language mavens 23. Mai 2009
Von YA writer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
If you love language, you won't find a better guide through the twisting alleys of English than Pat O'Conner. Since her first book, Woe Is I, through the current Origins of the Specious, Pat never fails to write fascinating and fun examinations of the English language. With a keen eye for the aspects of grammar, usage, and syntax that are most interesting, she points out little-known facts and etymologies of how we speak, and why we speak the way we do. And Pat is no stuffy grammarian, insisting that the old usages be maintained if they don't serve us well to communicate clearly. In this book, she debunks so many misused word, phrases, and idioms, some of which have commonly-believed origins which she explains, as well as misconceptions about usage, in particular the way some grammarians have tried to adhere to Latin grammar only to increase confusion and frustration about proper English usage. If you have an interest in language, get a hold of this book. And while you're at it, you might as well get her other books - after reading one, you'll certainly become an O'Connerophile.
(Note: it's mentioned at the beginning of the book that both Pat and her husband, Stewart Kellerman, wrote it together, but that for purposes of clarity, they wrote it as if in Pat's voice alone. In that spirit, I've written this review addressing all comments to her. As I'm sure she would like, I want to say that all of this applies to Stewart as well.)
18 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Bookmark This One 9. Mai 2009
Von D. Karras - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I am a fan of Woe is I, Updated and Expanded 3rd Edition: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain EnglishUpdated and Expanded 3rd Edition and Woe is I Jr.: The Younger Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English but this book on language myths and misconceptions tops them both. It is so interesting and informative that I read it cover to cover in one sitting and have already gone back to some sections. How many words Eskimos really have for snow (p. 146) and how ivory towers got to campus from the Old Testament (p. 166) are two favorites. And I'm mentally bookmarking the nuanced history behind "call a spade a spade" (p. 126). It's a great example of the thoughtful way the rest of the book is written. Good reading!
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen spot on 6. April 2010
Von C. P. Anderson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm not sure what it is about language that encourages so many urban legends and old wives tales. Perhaps it's because the scientific treatment of language (linguistics) has next-to-no influence in our schools or culture. Language is, instead, treated as much more of an art or craft. Unfortunately, that approach is much more open to myths and misconceptions than a more rigorous and scientific one.

O'Conner and Kellermen do a great job pointing out some of those legends and errors. Take, for example, split infinitives. They're natural to English and have been used by all the greats - Shakespeare, Milton, the King James Bible, et al.

So, where did the prohibition come from? Would you believe Latin? It's true. Some 18th Century grammarians got the novel idea of modeling English after Latin (which, as everyone knew back then, was the perfect language). And in Latin, it's impossible to split an infinitive - they're one word!

There's tons more - from beginning sentences with conjunctions to ending them with prepositions and everything in between - and all just as cockeyed and screwy.

There were two things I didn't like about this book. One, the authors pick and choose which rules they want to be scientific about and which they'd prefer to be "artistic" about. Seems like they've been able to put only one foot in the linguistic camp.

Second, the individual sections are all rather fourmulaic. They typically begin with some far-fetched connection, discuss the issue in depth, then end with some terrible pun. Here's an example of the last (on why the French are called "frogs," which has been tied to their habit of eating the same):

"I'm with Tidwell on the etymology, but I'm with Kermit the Frog on amphibian cuisine. It's not easy being green, If the French aren't sauteing you, the English are using to roast the French."
23 von 31 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Not much new, and not particularly entertaining 8. Juli 2009
Von J. C Clark - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I purchased this when a language newsletter I get recommended it. I like to support those who provide me with free goodies, so I clicked on his link and had it shipped immediately. I have read many books about language, and have subscribed to the erratically published Verbatim magazine for over 30 years. And therein lies the problem.

I hate to be the less-enthusiastic reviewer, but I was not overwhelmed at all by this light, small book. Most everything in here I have read elsewhere, in Verbatim and in the offerings of previous language writers, whether the pre-historic ancients like Fowler and Curme, mere antediluvian authors such as John Simon and Edwin Newman, or any of the more recent cranks. The brisk, pithy discussions, complete with a lame pun at the end of nearly every one, were just not very satisfying. (Maybe another manifestation of our short-attention span world; these little "chapters" were so brief I could hardly get involved.) For whatever reason, while the level of discourse sinks around us, where college graduates have never read an unassigned book and can barely write a coherent sentence, and one word beginning with f is the noun, verb, adjective, adverb in most conversation, the number of "The End Is Near, but It's Not So Bad" books seems to be increasing. Those of us watching the demise of something we love may buy these books (another endangered species) to help soothe our pain, but this provided little therapy. And her analysis is little more than listening to the masses. "Hopefully" is gonna happen, get used to it. Been used that way for a long time, is going to continue. Yeah, yeah.....the problems are much bigger than this.

Now, if you've never read anything on language, you may find this informative. I didn't. I'd send you to, among others, Willard Espy for both more fun and more information.
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