Between You and I (Paperback)
A Little Book of Bad English
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A waspish review of the massacre of the Queen’s English, introduced by Britain’s best-loved radio journalist John Humphrys.
Here is a new, enlarged edition of the book described by The Independent as a “cool, disdainfully precise A-Z of linguistic misuse”, and by its author as “a two-hour course in language detoxification”. Included as an appendix for the first time is George Orwell’s 1946 essay Politics and the English Language, which brilliantly analyses the way in which lazy or dishonest language can displace thought and subvert meaning.
Between You and I is mostly about Bad English in the Orwellian sense. Much of what is included here is ‘half-educated’ language used by people in the mistaken belief that speaking or writing in their natural idiom is somehow less ‘correct’. Most of the examples come from people who should be setting a good example: from public figures, from those in the media and politics, from teachers and university academics. It is a sad paradox that while our language is constantly being enriched from below it is all too often being impoverished from above.
Fortunately, although the situation has probably deteriorated since the first edition, it’s not too late for the worst examples of Bad English to be recognised and remedied. This concise book takes the reader through a veritable rogues’ gallery of misguided language with that hope in mind. Many readers may be surprised to find that much of what they thought was ‘bad’ English is in fact perfectly good, and that what they have been led to think of as ‘good’ English is sometimes ignorant, dishonest or plain stupid.