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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining read
I have just read the other Amazon reviews of this book and I'd like to start by saying that I find it exasperating when people criticize an author for giving their personal opinion when that author states quite clearly at the start of the book that they are giving their personal opinion!
This is John Humphry's view of the sad decline in the correct use of...
Published on 5 Mar 2006 by Tealady2000

versus
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1946
In 1946, Orwell launched his essay 'Politics and the English Language' with the words:
'Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way'.
Familiar territory then. But while Orwell gave us a little over 5,000 words, Mr Humphreys has spun his message out to 330 pages.
Orwell even provides a 90 word...
Published on 7 Feb 2011 by Yahshua


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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining read, 5 Mar 2006
By 
Tealady2000 (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language (Paperback)
I have just read the other Amazon reviews of this book and I'd like to start by saying that I find it exasperating when people criticize an author for giving their personal opinion when that author states quite clearly at the start of the book that they are giving their personal opinion!
This is John Humphry's view of the sad decline in the correct use of English. He's not an academic, so this is not a rule book (though you may well learn something - I certainly did). He's an experienced journalist and broadcaster, and as such he is an expert at spotting when people use fancy words to say very little. There are some fantastic examples in here of advertising jargon and political guff. And he's not afraid to name and shame the worst offenders. The section on business-speak gives a mind-boggling selection of non-words. I have to confess that I now regularly threaten to 'de-individuate' my sons when they don't get ready quickly enough in the morning.
Humphrys accepts that English is constantly evolving and he acknowledges that he is intensely irritated by some linguistic developments that are happily accepted by others. There is certainly an element of Grumpy Old Man-ism here but personally I find that quite entertaining.
In summary this book is a personal view of the abuse and misuse of English. Keep that in mind and you won't go far wrong.
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81 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Intelligent and sane, 17 Nov 2004
By A Customer
This has been a great read and is more than just waking up with John Humphrys in the morning. The book is funny and sharp in its capturing the essence of what our language is going through. I loved the bits where he takes the language of politicians and exposes the conscious manipulation. It's more than about politics;everyone who misuses language (and there are a lot of them about including himself) gets caught in his sights. But it's not a pedantic book. It's very entertaining.
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60 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lost for words, 25 Nov 2004
By A Customer
This really is a good book. I thought at first it was going to be a Humphry's rant, which it is but it is also very much more.The first half of the book is about mangling language. Humphreys cares passionately that language should be used to communicate and it upsets him when it does the opposite ,either deliberately or through neglect. He uses examples, written and spoken, from a variety of sources to illustrate mangling. however, I think the book is best when Humphrys shows us how politicians,advertisers and others deliberately mangle language to hide the truth or to communicate an idea so losely that they cannot be held accountable for it. He shows how language can be used to communicate along a spectrum running from clarity to deception. But he's not a pendant. He believes that almost every language rule can be broken as long as it is clear. Readers will also discover that they are not the only ones to listen to the weather forecast but hear nothing. Humphrys manages all of this with great humour.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is worth your attention., 25 April 2007
By 
J. D. Aspinall (South West England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book. Its author knows enough about our language to hold the reader's attention and make his points in a light-hearted, witty way.

Politicians, academics and celebrities' language is designed to achieve different things: from changing an opinion to forcing the case for war; from buying a useless product to offering support for twisted agendas.

They're all at it, the buggers.

The book points out some of the methods, and the culprits identified by the author are treated with gentlemanly restraint. Even Alistair Campbell gets off lightly, which bemused me. John Humphrys makes a crashing error, though.

He wrote that the flabby, convoluted language used by critics of modern art validates the art. No argument from me on that point, and he backed up his argument with examples. But Humphrys still refers to the garbage produced by Tracey Emin as "work". That is unforgivable. Describing her junk as "work" places it alongside long hours in the office or on the building site. Using that word validates her ludicrous offerings. He makes a sharp and lethal point with one sentence, and then destroys his clear thinking with only one word.

Work.

Using that word in that way appears to be an example of subtle - almost sub-concious -cap-doffing to people who have mistaken pretension for genius. It's only work if you would rather be doing something else.

Another small gripe is Humphrys' use of the semi-colon. He hardly bothers. Now that is okay. Semi-colons are a thing of choice. They do tend to loosen the belt of the prose, though. They let the writing breathe a bit.

I enjoyed reading this book. I felt that I had learned some things that were worth learning by reading it.

Much obliged to ya, guv.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1946, 7 Feb 2011
By 
This review is from: Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language (Paperback)
In 1946, Orwell launched his essay 'Politics and the English Language' with the words:
'Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way'.
Familiar territory then. But while Orwell gave us a little over 5,000 words, Mr Humphreys has spun his message out to 330 pages.
Orwell even provides a 90 word summary:
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Mr Humphreys, (iii) is good!!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cackleworthy!, 1 May 2007
By 
N. Stratford "Acerebel (http://www.istockphot... (Kingswood, South Australia Australia) - See all my reviews
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I was given this book, in its paperback edition, as a birthday gift. I'm normally a fiction reader and tend to veer away from anything that doesn't provide a bit of escapism from my normal life. This book, though, was a complete pleasure. It's a witty look at the dreadful iniquities being visited upon our language. If you want a book that instructs, illuminates, and causes you to laugh aloud (so embarrassing in public places), then I recommend you get a copy of "Lost for Words". Honestly, there were moments when I sounded like a hen laying a square egg - cackleworthy, indeed!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhere in between, 6 Dec 2005
By 
P. M. Fernandez "exilefromgroggs" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language (Paperback)
I fall somewhere in between these two reviews.
My wife thought that this book was excellent. I thought it was OK - like "The Closing of the American Mind", its problem is that it is too subjective - the author seems to be equating what he likes with what is right (and yes, as the first reviewer wrote, in "one-size fits all"). As a journalist, Mr Humphrys has the right to expect people to communicate effectively and accessibly when they face him. However, the same rules don't apply to other fields in which language is used. Of course, there are some circumstances when people hide their lack of brain, ideas, originality etc behind jargon. But there are other times when technical terms are used to communicate ideas that don't yet have common currency - that is how language develops. Humphrys seems to be unaware of this.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passionate and funny Humphrys, 11 Nov 2004
This review is from: Lost for Words (Hardcover)
John Humphrys is certainly passionate about language. And I should know because I helped him write this book. It's probably because of what he has to put up with every morning on the radio -- interviewees who mangle or manipulate the language so that we just want to turn them off. But he can't: he has to go on doing his job as an interviewer and the experience seems to have inspired him to write this book.
It's about how so many people who should know better (and some who do) abuse our common language: not just politicians but business leaders, academics, teachers, 'serious' writers ... and other journalists. What Humphrys shows is that what maddens us can also be very funny. And that was the experience of working on the book. When we started to look at the way people speak and write we often didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Humphrys has managed to bring this out in the book: friends of mine who have read it from cold found themselves as often bursting into laughter as wanting to stick pins into ... (I'd better not name the names here). And the book is stuffed with examples from all over the place.
Humphrys certainly wants to amuse people with how ghastly the mangling of English is. But he's got a serious point as well. In fact two of them. He shows how speaking and writing does not need to be like this. But he also shows how bad use of language is often a manipulative device deployed by people who want to hoodwink us. We need to watch people's language if we don't want to be duped.
If you get as much pleasure, fun and stimulation from reading this book as I got from helping Humphrys write it, you'll have a ball.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 12 July 2014
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C. reid - See all my reviews
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not bad
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5.0 out of 5 stars literature, 13 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language (Paperback)
In this day and age such books should be thrust in front of Directors of Education, Ministers of State and any other politician or public managers of anything.
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