Horrible Words: A Guide to the Misuse of English

Author(s): Rebecca Gowers


Nothing inflames language purists like an illogical irregardless or a hideous otherization. To a purist these are "howlers" and "non-words," fit only for scorn. But in their rush to condemn such terms, are the nay-sayers missing something? This provocative and hugely entertaining book shows how the diktats of the pedants are repeatedly based on misinformation, false reasoning and straight-up snobbery. The result is a brilliant work of history, a surreptitious introduction to linguistics, and a mischievous salute to misusers of the language. Crammed with fabulous anecdotes and quotes from language purists and abusers throughout history, including Jane Austen, James Joyce, and Wayne and Garth, it also speculates on new and future coinages ("innuendous," "webinarathon").


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A great delight -- David Crystal Gowers is fierce, funny and staggeringly well informed -- Alan Connor Mail on Sunday Stuffed with entertaining detail ... Horrible Words is lively, provocative, witty and enlightening The Times Exuberant and stimulating ... erudite, informative and fun Financial Times A very useful book, packed with good historical sense -- Lynne Truss The Times A joy - informative and irreverent -- Caroline Taggart Witty and erudite ... A splendid antidote to small-minded pedantry -- Robbie Millen The Times Will have you enraptured by etymology ... Hugely enjoyable Reader's Digest

Rebecca Gowers is the author of The Swamp of Death, shortlisted for the CWA non-fiction Golden Dagger Award, and of two novels, When to Walk and The Twisted Heart, both longlisted for the Orange Prize. She is also the most recent editor of Plain Words, the classic guide to the use of English by her great-grandfather Sir Ernest Gowers.

General Fields

  • : 9780141978970
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : Particular Books
  • : 0.172
  • : May 2017
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : April 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Rebecca Gowers
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : English
  • : 428
  • : 224