- Hardcover: 896 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Re-Revised 3rd edition (23 Sept. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198610211
- ISBN-13: 978-0198610212
- Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 4.6 x 14.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 442,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Fowler's Modern English Usage (Re-Revised 3rd Edition) Hardcover – 23 Sep 2004
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[Fowler's Modern English Usage] offers impeccable advice. (The Times)
About the Author
The original 'Fowler' was Henry Watson Fowler (1858-1933), a teacher and writer. He was also the author, with his brother Francis, of The King's English (1906) and the first edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1911). Robert Burchfield (1923-2004), a New Zealander by birth, held the post of Chief Editor of Oxford English Dictionaries between 1971 and 1984 and was the Editor of the final volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary Supplements. He was also the editor of The New Zealand Pocket Oxford Dictionary (1986) and, with C. T. Onions and G. W. S. Friedrichsen, of The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology (1966).
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Let's begin with the Preface in which he has the temerity of damning H.W. Fowler himself with faint praise and something close to dismissal. Burchfield asks: "Why has this schoolmasterly, quixotic, idiosyncratic, and somewhat vulnerable book...retained its hold on the imagination of all but professional linguistic scholars for just on seventy years?" (p. ix) One gets the sense that Burchfield is going to straighten matters out forthwith. He adds, "Fowler's name remains on the title-page, even though his book has been largely rewritten..." In the next sentence he refers to Fowler's book as a "masterpiece," but adds that "it is a fossil all the same" while intimating that its scholarly scope did not extend beyond "the southern counties of England in the first quarter of the twentieth century." (p. xi)
From there we go to the entries themselves and find on page one that the suffix "-a" is now
being printed more and more to present the sound that replaces "of" in rapid (esp. demotic) speech, as in "kinda" (=kind of), loadsa, sorta.
The problem with this is there is no acknowledgment that such usage, especially in written English, is substandard. Even in the entry on "demotic English," Burchfield merely notes that such formulations as "gotta," "shoulda," etc. are becoming more common.Read more ›