Recommendation for a book, the mere thought of which terrifies me

Peter Harvey has a guide to English language usage out …

… and he’s posting excerpts, so go peruse and buy. I genuinely wish that this systematic kind of approach worked for me, but, despite several minor prescriptive acquisitions over the years, trumped by the incredibly generous donation of Duden by Goethe London, perhaps to try to shut me up a bit during B2, virtually all my (human- and machine-oriented) language knowledge and skills have been acquired from the mouths of horses. The scar from the famous bike accident is brain left, but that doesn’t strike me as sufficient explanation.

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  1. I’m reminded of the Prince Regent upon learning that Dr Johnson’s new work is a dictionary, “I know what English words mean. I speak English! You must be a bit of a thicko.”

  2. I know I posted a thank you message but it seems to have got lost.

    “I’m reminded of the Prince Regent …”
    The Blackadder version. The historical version is that the Dictionary was published in 1755, seven years before George IV was born.

    How do you get the Wikipedia links?

  3. Peter, it’s a quote from Blackadder. I suppose that means the facts are wrong.

    The book sounds rather good: is there a Kindle/iPad version available?

  4. Tom, Thanks for the interest. There’s no Kindle version. The conversion is impossible with formatting of tables and illustrations and fonts. I beleive that the Adobe Digital Editions epub version can be read on an iPad but I haven’t got it going yet. ADE is designed to read books on any device that is authorised to your account, like iTunes.
    More here:

    @Trebots: How do you get the Wikipedia links?

  5. @PH: Blog software is WordPress, I tag the posts with Wikipedia article titles, and then a little script I wrote & included in the theme converts the tag into the relevant article URL, grabs the page, takes the first sentence, and includes it here, checking back on Wikipedia every so often for updates. I should make it into a plugin, but then I’d have to test it properly to avoid the insults outweighing the kudos.

  6. > The book sounds rather good

    Seconded. Even on the small glance so far, it’s most unusual to see an ESL text mentioning regional variations, and it’s nice to see the schwa up-front. I’ve occasionally gasped and stretched my eyes at seeing people in forums referring to the schwa as “lazy English” rather than the normal pronunciation of unstressed vowels.

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