A Word in Your Ear by Philip Howard - review by Kingsley Amis

Kingsley Amis

Get it Right

A Word in Your Ear


Hamish Hamilton 126pp £7.50 order from our bookshop

Philip Howard was recently described to me by a leading lexicographer as one of the four working journalists with a dictionary. He cares how he writes, notices how others write and points accurately to the atrocities they commit upon the language, with a sharp eye for new arrivals. The performance is stimulating, informative and lucid. All this is rare indeed in an age when most professional word-persons bring to their task all the reverence and subtlety of those fishermen who obtain their catch by exploding sticks of dynamite under water.

One of the minor struggles in the great war of words has the permissive faction, those to whom no usage is better than another, pitted against the prescriptive faction, those who hold the contrary, who believe that some expressions are all right, good, even correct while others are mistaken, bad,

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