- Gebundene Ausgabe: 408 Seiten
- Verlag: Farrar Straus & Giroux (25. Oktober 2011)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0374183295
- ISBN-13: 978-0374183295
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,3 x 3,4 x 23,6 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.865.192 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Language Wars: A History of Proper English (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 25. Oktober 2011
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"Crisply written, amusing, informative, and thought-provoking. Anyone interested in the English language and its history should read it."---The Sunday Telegraph (London)
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Henry Hitchings was born in 1974. He is the author of The Secret Life of Words, Who’s Afraid of Jane Austen?, and Defining the World. He has contributed to many newspapers and magazines and is the theater critic for the London Evening Standard.
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Hitchings has a descriptivist view that languages evolve over time. This is in direct contrast to the prescriptivist view that there is one right way to speak and write. He cites historical references for why some things are improper, i.e., ending a sentence with a preposition or the use of contractions in speech and writing. Additionally he peppers his book with anecdotal stories of individuals who disliked a particular word or its use in certain situations. He has a compelling argument for clear expression that political correctness sometimes obscures. He talks with passion about the identity a language gives a nation.
This is not likely a book that will appeal to a wide audience. If you enjoy the minutiae of language and its history, this is a book for you.
I wish that he had written more about the debilitating effects of PowerPoint on writing and its potential for numbing an audience. Having a presenter read the slides in a PowerPoint presentation must rate high on the cruel-and-unusual punishment scale. However, this topic may not rate high on his list of linguistic sins.
The great thing about this book, in addition to the information it provides, is its sense of humor. Sorry about that moralistic people, but there are funny asides throughout the book that keep this from being a dry as dust historic tome about language and serve as great ways of making a point.
Perhaps it might have been better to have as a subtitle "A History of Proper and not so Proper English." That might have served as a warning flag to those with delicate sensitivities.
All in all, a book that makes me want to search out Hitchings' other books. As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
Hopkins mediates the eternal argument between descriptivists (those grammarians who merely want to describe the language as it is actually used) and prescriptivists (those who seek to discover the rules that the language should follow) in a fair manner. Though perhaps leaning a bit towards the descriptivist side, he provides an even-handed treatment of the innumerable grammars, spellers, dictionaries, style guides, and other devices that writers have used to beat English's idiosyncrasies into something resembling a manageable form. The names and dates flash by so quickly that it is very easy to get lost, especially when no facsimile pages or similar visual materials are provided to illustrate the tomes being described. The book's reassuringly chronological approach also breaks down near the end, as Hitchings diverges into discussions of profanity, politically correct speech, irritating phrases, and the potential (mis) use of the language for propaganda purposes. Any language buff or avid reader, however, will find much in this book on which to reflect and ponder.
The English language now has a long and storied history stretching back several centuries. Hitchings traces that history, including some of the contributions of authors such as Chaucer and Shakespeare, in this superb volume. He discusses how the language changed across those long stretches of time and looks at the standardization process that took place. Also discussed are how English changed with social change and lists some of the values in the core English-speaking countries that helped shape the language.
We have all been in debates about spelling, pronunciation, and punctuation--Hitchings examines these usage topics and also touches on the topics of the split infinitive, slang, censorship, profanity, and more. The author also discusses dialects--an area of language that interests just about everyone and ends up sparking many friendly debates, as I learned when I moved from Michigan to Texas in the seventh grade.
Near the end of the volume Hitchings looks at the spread of English around the world, notes the effect that current technology has on language, and even offers a couple of predictions on what may happen in English in the future. Any English speaker with a keen interest in language would enjoy "The Language Wars."