English for the Natives
By Harry Ritchie
'My first English lesson was grammar with the terrifying Mrs Petrie. She spent the entire time marching up and down the classroom, thwacking various items of school furniture with a ruler while she banged on about the ING part of the verb. I sat there, vibrating with fear, desperately trying to figure out what on earth she could mean. Irregular Negative Gerund? Intransitive Nominative Genitive? It was only years later, when I was teaching English to foreign students, that I realised that English grammar wasn't obscure and wilfully difficult but a fascinating subject which I was already brilliant at - and this book will prove that you are too.'Forget the little you think you know about English grammar and start afresh with this highly entertaining and accessible guide. English for the Natives outlines the rules and structures of our language as they are taught to foreign students - and have never before been explained to us. Harry Ritchie also examines the grammar of dialects as well as standard English and shows how non-standard forms are just as valid. With examples from a wide variety of sources, from Ali G to John Betjeman, Margaret Thatcher to Match of the Day, this essential book reveals some surprising truths about our language and teaches you all the things you didn't know you knew about grammar.
The Language Wars
By Henry Hitchings
The English language is a battlefield. Since the age of Shakespeare, arguments over correct usage have been acrimonious, and those involved have always really been contesting values - to do with morality, politics and class. THE LANGUAGE WARS examines the present state of the conflict, its history and its future. Above all, it uses the past as a way of illuminating the present. Moving chronologically, the book explores the most persistent issues to do with English and unpacks the history of 'proper' usage. Where did these ideas spring from? Which of today's bugbears and annoyances are actually venerable? Who has been on the front line in the language wars?THE LANGUAGE WARS examines grammar rules, regional accents, swearing, spelling, dictionaries, political correctness, and the role of electronic media in reshaping language. It also takes a look at such niggling concerns as the split infinitive, elocution and text messaging. Peopled with intriguing characters such as Jonathan Swift, H. W. Fowler and George Orwell as well as the more disparate figures of Lewis Carroll, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lenny Bruce, THE LANGUAGE WARS is an essential volume for anyone interested in the state of the English language today or intrigued about its future.
By Ralph Keyes
We say a lot about ourselves by what we don't say. Words and phrases like 'collateral damage', 'wardrobe malfunction', 'vertically challenged', and old favourites like 'unmentionables' (trousers, apparently) or 'lady of the night' - all are ways of not using particular words. UNMENTIONABLES is a rollicking exploration of the history of euphemistic usage, looking at how taboos connected to sex, death, religion, war, politics, business and matters of status have produced an extraordinary linguistic creativity, and how euphemistic speech has changed over the centuries. It looks at how euphemisms are born, and how they die (or 'experience a negative outcome') and it explores why it is that we create euphemisms, and the different purposes - from the benign to the sinister - that they serve. (Is 'euphemism' a euphemism for lying?)Lively, entertaining, and crammed with fascinating nuggets of information, UNMENTIONABLES is a celebration of the richness of language. Why have just one word for something when you can have ten other words instead?