Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation BY Ammon Shea

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Bad English by Ammon Shea

Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation by Ammon Shea

Penguin Random House (2014)

Summary: English is a glorious mess of a language, cobbled together from a wide variety of sources, and changing over time with popular usage. Many of the words we embrace as correct today were at first considered slang, impolite, or just plain wrong.

Whether you’re a know-it-all, a nitpicker or a rule-breaker in the know, Bad English is sure to enlighten, enrage and even inspire. Filled with colorful examples, the book chronicles the long and entertaining history of language mistakes, and features some of our most common words and phrases, including: decimate, hopefully, enormity, that/which, literally/figuratively, ain’t, irregardless, OMG, stupider.

Complete with a takedown of George Orwell’s famous grammar rules, and a Shakespeare or Rap Lyrics quiz, Bad English will settle arguments among word lovers – and start a few, too.

If you like linguistics, you will enjoy this book. It was a bit dry in a few parts but overall a great addition to my Linguistics section of my personal library. Some books just complain about poor usage of grammar but don’t really explain how it got changed or why it’s still commonly used incorrectly but this book does.

The book doesn’t use too many hard to understand words although it’s by no means an easy read. You’ll need concentration for this one but it’s a lot easier to understand and fun to read than many others like it.

My favourite part is the 221 Words That Were Once Frowned Upon. Words that seem normal by today’s standards but were apparently bad grammar long ago.

“Ad: This abbreviation for the word advertisement is very justly considered a gross vulgarism. It is doubtful whether it is permissible under any circumstances – Alfred Ayres, The Verbalist, 1894” – pg 196

If you want to know more about how the English language has changed through the years and how our rules about what is okay and what is not have changed, this is your book.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.