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Mind the Gaffe: The Penguin Guide to Common Errors in English Paperback – 25 Jul 2002


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Mind the Gaffe: The Penguin Guide to Common Errors in English + The Penguin Guide to Punctuation (Penguin Reference Books) + The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar (Penguin Reference Books)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140514767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140514766
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 209,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Intelligent, reliable and lively ... this book is great' -- The Guardian, August 10th, 2002

'It is good to see there is someone out there hunting down...serial abusers of English' -- The Guardian, August 10th, 2002

'The book produces satisfied murmurs of content and cries of ''Tell it like it is, baby'' ' -- The Guardian, August 10th, 2002

About the Author

Larry Trask is the author of such well-received books as The Penguin Guide to Punctuation and The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar. He was born in western New York State in 1944 and came to England in 1970. He now teaches at the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences at the University of Sussex.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Mahady on 21 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. Writing forms a large part of my work and I refer to this book almost every day. I encourage others to do the same.

Anyone who yearns for plain English and despairs at pompous, officious writing will find the book a joy to read. The subtitle of this book `Common Errors in English' is a very accurate description of the contents. These errors are very common; so common are they that many came as a complete surprise to me. And I thought I knew my stuff.

Written in a wry style, this book should be on the desk of anyone who writes regularly. The page on split infinitives is worth the admission price, because never again will you worry about such nonsense.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Town on 11 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent guide to English usage, common errors and much else.

Trask can spot pretentious nonsense at forty paces and, thankfully, doesn't sit on the fence. The result is an authoritative book that sometimes made me laugh out loud as the author exposes and debunks some of the myths and nonsense that are still regularly encountered.

I share his dislike of the incomprehensible affected twaddle that so many academics and managers inflict on us.

I've since read a number of R.L. Trask's books and they're all outstanding. 'Language: The Basics' is brilliant and his guide to punctuation is quite simply the clearest and best available. Mr Trask is a truly talented writer and communicator. I wish more academics could write and explain ideas like him.

Those starting out on trying to improve their English might just occasionally find it a bit deep. I'd say 'Troublesome Words' by Bill Bryson is an excellent companion, but I'd definitely want this book to go with it. Reading two different, and well written, explanations is often a great help when dealing with an unfamiliar topic.
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140 of 145 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 Oct. 2001
Format: Hardcover
For all of us language nerds, it is immensely reassuring to find that someone else cares as much as we do, knows a lot more than we do, and is better at presenting his material than we could ever hope to be. This book is alphabetically arranged (is there any other way, for us nerds?) and covers a selection of pitfalls in the English language, both at word and syntax level. Does it tell me things I didn't already know? Certainly, but I'm afraid any dull grammar does that - the winning ingredient in this book is its dry (dare I say acerbic?) humor, which mocks pretentiousness and reveals how muddled language is always a symptom of muddled thinking, no matter how many syllables or buzz-words have been used. Another plus is its willingness to take a stand, and tell the reader which solution is the preferable one. Of course, in an academic language study, the descriptive approach is the only one, but when it comes to usage guides, prescription is definitely called for, even if it smacks of school-marmish pontificating, and the author sits bravely, but securely, in the saddle of his language high horse.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dimis on 16 April 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a very useful book for all those learning English. It is also very helpful for everyone who wants to refine the use of English language. I find fun every now and then surfing through the pages without any special need.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jimser10 on 24 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this a very readable book. It covered most of the common mistakes made in using English and I pick it up for guidance every so often
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 22 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you hate grammar and punctuation yet fancy yourself as someone who can write, then you can do no better than consulting Trask. His online guide to punctuation gives anyone a very solid footing from which to start and this guide about common mistakes in the English language is invaluable for any would be authors.
It is a real loss to linguistics that Mr. Trask sadly is no longer with us. Had he lived into old age, he would no doubt have made more powerful contributions to a subject that we all use and could all do with using better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 30 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Grammar is important if you want people to get the impression that you are paying attention to what you are saying or treating your audience with respect, so it is good to see that there is someone out there hunting down the kind of serial abusers of English that you find, like woodlice under a log, in PR outfits, government agencies and the features departments of mid-market newspapers.
This is an extract from a review by a better man than me.
He was - Nicholas Lezard, writing in
The Guardian, Saturday 10 August 2002
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By abraxis on 14 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
On the plus side this book is interesting because it covers some of the differences between American and British English, useful for the spelling errors. Unfortunately, the book is spoilt by the author's opinionated style of writing. He makes digs and jibes at anything he takes a dislike to. It's really not want I want in a grammar book, it just has no place and is really inappropriate. Some of his statements regarding a couple of technical grammar points I also completely disagreed with but that's a minor point. If you can somehow filter out the author's own opinions then this book could be useful but I wish he would learn to write and keep his opinions to himself.
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