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Grammar and Style: For Examination Candidates and Others Paperback – 1 Apr 2013
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A practical handbook encouraging writers to become more consciously aware of the way in which they employ words, drawing attention to points of grammar and offering hints on various styles of writing.
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describe the grammar of current English usage, the author is somewhat
free to take a refreshingly opinionated approach. I particularly like the accurate and
clear description of the "English subjunctive", which Wikipedia authors writing on that
subject could do well to read.
Regarding Mr Dummett's style, I am not sure he meant to tickle one's funny bone but he did so nevertheless. He also takes us to the nub of the matter, all the while with a faint air of melancholy that we have arrived at our present state of linguistic ignorance. No blame is specifically attached - but I suspect he holds government at least partly responsible, and I have to say that I would agree with him. In many ways this little book is a gem.
In some respects, Dummett covers the same ground that other writers on style do. He defines the main grammatical categories, gives some stylistic guidelines, and gives the correct meaning of many misused words. What distinguishes Dummett's treatment is the fact that he is rigorous, and also very amusing. His rigour manifests itself in the way that he carefully develops and tests definitions of grammatical phrases and rules. His amusingness manifests in his scorn for those pretending to be able to write well and clearly, and for some American usages of English. In one place, he describes the displacement of the English sense of 'billion' (meaning one million million) by the American sense (meaning one thousand billion) as 'a minor piece of cultural rape'.
This is one of few reference books that I return to regularly, and still read for pleasure.
Finally, it's not a large book: it is a good read, slim and portable.