Thursday, May 28, 2009

Books worth noting (one free)

John McIntyre notes on his blog that you should rush over to Grant Barrett's "The Lexicographer's Rules," where he has made a free PDF download of his book The Official Dictonary of Unofficial English available.

John also points out a new book by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman that, as he says, "you ought to keep in mind if you are serious about writing and editing": Origin of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language.

As John writes:
They advise that it’s time to give up the struggle over gauntlet and gantlet, data as a singular, decimate as strictly meaning a tenth (though not as equivalent of destroyed), beg the question as solely a term of logic, hopefully as a sentence adverb, bemused as meaning only muddled or confused. I share their regret over the last count, but, you know, it is more important to be understood than to be correct.
Like John, I share the regret over bemused and, in addition, over beg the question. I think they still have some use, and there are good alternatives. But I certainly agree with the others. I've argued that AP needs to re-examine gantlet and gauntlet because two of the three major dictionaries, M-W and American Heritage, already accept gauntlet as the main noun. It's only Webster's New World 4, the most conservative of the dictionaries, that clings to the distinction. Now, that's the dictionary AP uses, but there are times to throw in the towel. (The AP also should re-examine the stanch/staunch pair. Again, I say this regretfully, but look and you'll find staunch clearly listed as a verb in the major references.)

Anyhow, I'll be ordering my copy from Amazon tonight.

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