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Customer Review

31 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I must be cleverer than I thought!, 10 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: How to Sound Clever: Master the 600 English Words You Pretend to Understand...When You Don't (Hardcover)
I like books about words, grammar, etc., (sad, I know) and I was looking forward to receiving this one. I have to say I was underwhelmed by it.

It's always a bad sign when there are huge borders limiting the amount of actual text on each page. It makes me suspect that the book has had to be padded out. This suspicion was confirmed by some of the content.

Now I'm certainly not Stephen Fry but the revelation that "Dickensian" means "bringing to mind the novels of Charles Dickens" was not a huge shock. I knew that "opaque" means "hard to make out" (and I'm not sure that's a particularly good definition anyway). Is there anyone who doesn't have a reasonable idea what "tinnitus" is or what "tawdry" means?

There was some interest in reading a proper "definition" of a word that you have heard (in reasonably common use) and seeing whether the meaning you had worked out was correct. Having said that, I could have used a dictionary to do that.

Overall disappointing. Seems more like an attempt to rush out something that people will buy as an Xmas stocking filler rather than a genuine attempt to look (in any sort of depth) at interesting words in current use.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Oct 2010 15:55:33 BDT
John Bagnall says:
Thank you. I think you've just stopped me wasting my money - especially in light of there being no "read inside".

Posted on 13 Oct 2010 10:52:26 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 13 Oct 2010 10:55:08 BDT]

Posted on 3 Dec 2010 22:47:50 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Dec 2010 22:57:01 GMT
I'm not sure that the book is aimed at people who "like books about words, grammar, etc." The author appears to be taking a rather more light-hearted, dinner-table shot at the sort of lexicological miscellany you were perhaps hoping for.

I should think the title and illustrations on the cover alone belie any idea that it is a serious attempt at a comprehensive, or even thorough coverage of the 600 most misused, misunderstood or nonplussing words in the English language.

I certainly fall into the target demographic, and while there were some words that I already knew before dipping in, I found many of which I was uncertain. Meretricious, anyone? Recidivistic? Pernicious? All words I was familiar with but would not have been comfortable using in conversation before reading this book.

I enjoyed it.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Aug 2011 09:52:11 BDT
I think Ken is right.

The cover should give the buyer a clue, and certainly the free sample on Kindle was enough to convince me that 1) it was a fun, sometimes funny book and 2) it wouldn't give me my money's worth at over a fiver because too much of the vocabularly was already familiar to me.

That said, what I read was interesting and entertaining, and there are certainly some words I might be more confident to use than to define.

Of course there are plenty of people out there who have no idea what tawdry means and have never come across tinnitus is. Let's be realistic, there are people out there who have never heard of Charles Dickens. You have a wide ranging vocabulary - it appears that you have been reasonably well educated. Don't fool yourself into thinking that is the same for everyone. It is not.

Oh and P.S. Opaque's literal meaning is, of course, impossible to be seen through/not transparent, but its figurative meaning is hard or impossible to understand. Thus, hard to make out is a perfectly reasonable definition.
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