Lost For Words Audio CD – Audiobook, 8 Nov 2004
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Humphrys is passionate about language - and very funny too (Rod Liddle)
Greatly enjoyable (Simon Hoggart, Guardian)
for all those who care about the English language (Ann Widdecombe, New Statesman)
It is always exhilarating to read a book which says what so many of us think (Jonathan Keates, Spectator)
Timely and lively (Sunday Telegraph)
Let us be very clear about this from the start: John Humphrys is a Good Thing (Evening Standard)
the Jack Russell of the Today programme has now chosen to take some well aimed snaps at solecism, jargon, cliche and weasel words... It is always exhilarating to read a book which says what so many of us think (Spectator)
I commend Citizen Humphrys (Daily Mail)
You will have fun with this book (Guardian)
an exquisite sensitivity to the misuse of the English language (The Sunday Times)
Presenter of Radio 4's Today and BBC1's Mastermind, John Humphrys shares the common outrage at the misuse of the English language and sets out his Campaign for Real English.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would urge anyone who thinks some language today is b@llocks, read this. I don't agree with all his points but it's well worth reading.Published 2 months ago by Mark Davies
almost afraid to write a critique , should have paid more attention in my English Language lessons75 years ago!!! JELPublished 15 months ago by joseph lambton MBE
The condition of the book is excellent however the contents are not that good. Love books on the English Language but this lost my interest less than half way through.Published 22 months ago by Mrs. C. J. Jones
This is fantastic. No punches pulled and have to say I agree with almost every word which say a lot. Certainly recommend to any one.Published 23 months ago by JulianP
A damned good read written by a true man of words. A book that stands revisiting.Published 24 months ago by Mac Greenwood