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Lost For Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language Paperback – 4 Jul 2005
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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)
Today programme presenter's Top Ten bestselling cry for better English in paperback
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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.
Without going into the detail of some other reviewers, he looks at the many ways in which language can be mangled and manipulated, sometimes accidentally by those who know no better, sometimes deliberately by those who know very well. For those who know no better, various suggestions are put forward, and for future generations.
For those who know what they are doing or whose profession it is to manipulate language fro specific purposes, I suspect that is why we need the Paxman, Humphreys and Naughties of this world, not to mention the Robin Days from whom they learned a lot.
For those who enjoy Humphrys, it is an enjoyable, personal insight into his views on language.
"Composite words like 'ongoing' and 'upcoming' are not only ugly: they are redundant" (P 108), a word not apllicable to Humphrys.
An enjoyable read.
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