Sunday, July 03, 2005

Vocabula Review

One of the neat sites on the Internet for those of us interested in language is the Vocabula Review.

This monthly subscription site is the child of Robert Hartwell Fiske, author of the Dimwit's Dictionary of overused phrases, the Dictionary of Concise Writing, and the Dictionary of Disagreeable English, all of which probably should be staples on the copy desk. It also is the home of some of today's most interesting writing about language, especially if you want to see where those with a more prescriptivist bent are coming from. (Check out On Some Deficiencies in Our American Dictionaries (An Editor Writes to His Son) by Frank Keyes, a rather snarky -- and I found thoroughly enjoyable -- takedown of Merriam-Wester's Collegiate, among others.)

Fiske is out trying to drum up subscriptions again, but this time with a deal I think is hard to pass up: $125 for a "lifetime" sub. Now, as he freely admits, a "lifetime" could be a year, or it could be 10 or 50 (he -- and I -- hope for the latter). And as part of the deal, you get lifetime access to the archives. Heck, for $125, I don't even get a year's subscription to my local paper or to the Wall Street Journal, and I damn sure don't get archive access.

(For those who are not betting folks, one year is just 12 bucks -- you can do that 10 times and, if he doesn't beat the odds, come out ahead.)

I don't know Fiske, don't have any dealings with him, don't get a cut of the action. But I do know a publication I respect -- one of the steadily dwindling few these days.

Whether one always agrees with Vocabula, it is well-written and thought out, and it is worth your while to check it out.


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