Top critical review
47 people found this helpful
on 2 January 2005
I got this book for Christmas, being seen by my family as a keen supporter of the correct use of English, particularly grammar. I was disappointed with it. Humphrys' arguments are weak - his core argument is that not all rules are there to be followed, but he is unclear which ones he supports and why. His points are often ill-researched and are not backed with up with further evidence like quotations or examples.The text itself is peppered with annoyances like archaisms ("half-way") and unnecessary subheadings every few paragraphs. Potentially interesting subjects, like how language develops in young children, are only touched on and again are not well-researched.
Like many older know-it-alls, he seems to blame 'youth' for the decline in language. I'm 19 and found errors in his text, and i frequently find errors in the writing of my parents and university lecturers. I'd say the 'blame' lies with older people set in their ways andunwilling to allow language to change and grow.. but that's another argument entirely.
I'm only a quarter of the way through the book but I'm not really keen to finish it. For intelligent yet amusing reads on the subject, I'd recommend Bill Bryson and Lynn Truss. They make most of the same points as Humphrys but in a far more lucid and readable way.