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Between You and I: A Little Book of Bad English Hardcover – 2 Oct 2003

3.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (2 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840464836
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840464832
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 950,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"A cool, disdainfully precise A-Z of linguistic misuse" -- Terence Blacker, Independent

"A deeply-felt defence of proper English usage" -- Robert McCrum, Observer

"An excellent Christmas gift" -- Writer's Forum

"The perfect guide for those who are interested in salvaging the standards of English ... an enjoyable and informative read" -- Good Book Guide

"Witty and provocative" -- Sunday Herald

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

This book is,between you and me,a little book of acerbic wit that takes a decidedly snobbish and elitist approach towards the ambiguities of English. The result is an entertaining and stimulating read as might be expected from those whose writing is pushed across the pages with a fiery arrogance.
James Cochrane rightly acknowledges that "English is a living language and must change",but it is here that problems arise. Take the word "ilk",for example. Cochrane lambastes his readers for using the word with the meaning of "like" or "kind" instead of "same",but surely this is a prime example of how the meaning of a word has changed. The same might be said of "community" or "light year". On the other hand he is without blame when dealing with the apostrophe,may and might,loathe and loath, and other conundrums of the English language.
It is precisely these controversies that make the book so stimulating;it raises questions that makes the reader react with the same verve as the author. A useful book to use in the classroom.
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I was not sure if I dare write a review of this book. It is full of superb examples of the way the English language has been abused in recent years and I wondered if anything I might write would be so full of errors it would be a good advert for the book. Once you have read this book I think you will either put it down and say 'so what' or you will try that bit harder when writing your next document. Either way its a very interesting book and well worth taking the time to read it
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I am angry with myself for wasting money on this book which is subtitled "a Little Book of Bad English". I had expected to find a book full of new and old corruptions of the English language, which it is, but the content is very scant. It's composed of just a few, apparently random, examples which offer very little of educational merit. I am sure that it only sells because of the foreword by John Humphrys, but he does little for his reputation by endorsing this trivial 'stocking-filler'.
I should advise anyone seeking real substance in this area to buy "Mind the Gaffe" by R L Trask (paperback from Penguin Books, 2002) where they will find at least 5 times as many examples, with more extensive explanations for £4 less.
My subtitle for "Between You and I" would be "a Bad Little Book of English."
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There are some wonderful examples of bad English in this book which makes me write this with more than just a little trepidation. It is not a book that pokes fun at the uneducated use of English such as pointing out the use of the double negative, or ending a sentence with a preposition, but wraps the knuckles of those who should know better: those that write for a living and miss-use the English language. This book is set out like a dictionary and you can look up each of Mister Cochrane's favourite misuses of the language: if I look up free gift, for example, I am asked whether there is any other kind, a gift is all you need to write and yet we are offered free gifts every day. If you look on Google you will be offered over 100,000 offers of free gifts.

James Cochrane, in his introduction, says that `invariably the examples come from people who ought to know better: broadcasters, particularly on BBC radios stations' - which may be a misprint in my copy or maybe that is the way it is supposed to be; but I will presume it to be a misprint or typo - as I type this I once again refer to the book to see if typo is acceptable; it's not in there so it must be - so getting back to the BBC: there is an excellent 'Forward' to this wonderful book written by John Humphrys of the ostensibly mis-aligned BBC. It is a very well written little piece from a man who is only known in Britain, where he is greatly respected - not prestigious you understand as that's a bad word and comes from prestidigitation which has something to do with conjuring tricks with hands; but I already knew that bit.
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This may not be the largest or prettiest book in the world but it's all the better for it. Instead of having to wade through a mass of verbose text, the author James Cochrane has written a wonderfully acerbic account of the english language malaise that is gripping the British intelligentsia and others who should know better.
Well done Mr. Cochrane!
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