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This review is from: Guardian Style: Third edition (Hardcover)
I'm almost scared to write a review of Guardian Style (or guardianstyle, a title style which they should abandon because it's no longer very stylish), or indeed of anything else, having perused it and scored about a 20% failure rate on all those bleeding obvious traps I thought I'd so cleverly avoided over the years, and that only the ill-educated could possibly continue to get wrong. It combines 1950s schoolmarm (I'm sure that must be unacceptable for all kinds of reasons), Stephen Pinker's beloved language mavens, some amusing and rather touchingly resigned pieces on usage that is just too complicated for most of us and which we should therefore abandon to professional philosophers (`begging the question' is a good example), and an assorted pile of linguistic and spelling horrors that have slimed under the door and into the everyday writing of most smart alecs, including myself (cusp, immaculate conception - how could we have got that so wrong for so long? - epicentre, lay waste ...). The list of cliches (no accent please) is bound to include several that you thought were nothing of the sort - actually rather clever, really - and the glib, sloppy, pompous and woolly are sought out and their necks shaken vigorously.
Sadly, it seems as if the motley Guardian writing crew never seems to learn these lessons (which is always encouraging for us amateurs), but surely this is an area where technology could be the salvation of the daily corrections column: shouldn't all copy be automatically fed through the style guide, to emerge wholesome, non-judgmental, comma-perfect and with everyone's titles, in all their gruesome complexity, fully consistent?
By turns it charmed, intrigued and frightened me. Keep it by you to slyly consult when you get that feeling you've just written something that's not quite right, which should happen more often once you've read it through. And for those who think that Guardian Style is the newspaper equivalent of military intelligence etc, I suggest trying to get through the first 20 pages of the current Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition, no less) to sample its unremitting head-banging neutral tedium and misery, numbered paragraphs and all. I almost guarantee you won't make it, and then you can be truly grateful for this delicious slim volume of serious language fun.