9780802717689

Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers

Bierce, Ambrose; Freeman, Jan

ISBN 10: 0802717683 / 0-8027-1768-3
ISBN 13: 9780802717689
Publisher: Walker & Company
Publication Date: 2009
Binding: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
One of America’s foremost language experts presents an annotated edition of A mbrose Bierce’s classic catalog of correct speech.

Ambrose Bierce is best known for The Devil's Dictionary, but the prolific journalist, satirist, and fabulist was also a usage maven.  In 1909, he published several hundred of his pet peeves in Write It Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults.

Bierce's list includes some distinctions still familiar today--the which-that rule, less vs. fewer, lie and lay -- but it also abounds in now-forgotten shibboleths: Ovation, the critics of his time agreed, meant a Roman triumph, not a round of applause. Reliable was an ill-formed coinage, not for the discriminating. Donate was pretentious, jeopardize should be jeopard, demean meant "comport oneself," not "belittle." And Bierce made up a few peeves of his own for good measure. We should say "a coating of paint," he instructed, not "a coat."

To mark the 100th anniversary of Write It Right, language columnist Jan Freeman has investigated  where Bierce's rules and taboos originated, how they've fared in the century since the blacklist, and what lies ahead. Will our language quibbles seem as odd in 2109 as Bierce's do today?  From the evidence offered here, it looks like a very good bet.


Editorial reviews may belong to another edition of this title.
 

Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers: Search Results

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Bierce, Ambrose; Freeman, Jan
ISBN 10: 0802717683
ISBN 13: 9780802717689
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Book Description: Walker. 1 Cloth(s), 2009. hard. Book Condition: New. Best known for his Devil's Dictionary, journalist and professional cynic Ambrose Bierce was also a maven of English usage, and in 1909 he gave us Write It Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Along with still-familiar distinctions—the which-that rule, less vs. fewer, lie and lay—it abounds in now-forgotten shibboleths: Ovation, the critics of his time agreed, meant a Roman triumph, not a round of applause. Reliable was an ill-formed coinage, donate was pretentious, and jeopardize should be jeopard. And Bierce made up a few peeves of his own for good measure—we should say "a coating of paint," he instructed, not "a coat." A century further on, Boston Globe language columnist Jan Freeman merrily takes on Bierce's quibbles, and uncovers not only how language changes but also how we use it and possess it."When the wisest language maven of this century takes on the wittiest (and most curmudgeonly) of the last one, the result is fantastically entertaining and insightful. You can dip into this book for pleasure, but you will also learn much about language, style, and the dubious authority of self-anointed experts."—Steven Pinker"Freeman, with her extensive explanations, comes off as the more practical and knowledgeable, but much of Bierce's greatness lies in his biting, snooty formulations. 'Ancestrally vulgar,' he'll sniff about one word, rolling his eyes . or 'irreclaimably degenerate.' What fun!"—The New Yorker"Ambrose Bierce's classic little book of Victorian-era grammar-grouchery lays down the law in a series of opinions that range from the conventional to the goofy. Jan Freeman's light-hearted look at how his edicts have fared a century later will be an eye-opener to those who confuse their specific language peeves with eternal truths."—Geoffrey K. Pullum"Bierce's collection of because-I-said-so strictures is an education in the persnickety side of English usage, but Jan Freeman's commentary on Bierce is truly enlightening, not just about the language but about how people judge the language."—Erin McKean 230. Bookseller Inventory # 31864

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