Thursday, December 03, 2009

Dock that prolixity

This is a dead-on review of a new edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage. The new edition is actually a republication of the original 1926 edition, turning its back on two revisions, one with small changes in 1965 and a substantial rewriting in 1996.

I would not say I rely on Fowler -- his is, after all, the English language of 1926, and things do change -- but he's surely my favourite read among usage texts. And I particularly admire the first words in the book, which express a thought all authors must have about their books (though who else would say it so precisely?): "I think of it as it should have been, with its prolixities docked, its dullnesses enlivened...."

Exactly. I rarely dock a prolixity without thinking of him.
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