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The Concise Companion to the English Language is a language lover's dream. Tom McArthur unveils a thousand-page cornucopia covering virtually every aspect of the English language as well as language in general. He covers a variety of topics, from Abbreviations to split infinitives, and includes substantial entries on key subjects such as African English, etymology, Pidgin, poetry, sexism, and slang. In addition, the Companion provides bibliographies for the larger entries, generous cross-referencing, etymologies for headwords, a chronology of English from Roman times to 1990, and an index of peopple who appear in entries or bibliographies. Packed with delightful surprises, the Companion will be an invaluable resource and a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in the English Language.
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Tom McArthur, former Professor of English at the University of Quebec, is editor of the journal English Today and the full Oxford Companion to the English Language.
If a telephone reference caller asks what deconstructionism is--or for the difference between a spondee and a dactyl, or for a clarification of Nice-Nellyism or the Gunning Fog Index--this is the source to reach for. The range here is wonderfully broad: language history, dialects, grammar, style, rhetoric, and so forth. A typical Oxford "Companion," this is both authoritative and fun. Articles are thorough, concise, and signed; cross-referencing is excellent; the ancient and au courant receive equal treatment; and the scope is global. Some will quibble (yes, quibble has an entry, but it's a cross reference to pun ); e.g., sundry authors who "influenced the shape or study of language" have entries, so that Mary Wollstonecraft is listed but Ruskin is not (although "Pathetic Fallacy" is). And the occasional bibliographies are perfunctory afterthoughts. Nevertheless, this is a fine book for reference and browsing. Highly recommended.
- Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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