Ambrose Bierce’s Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic’s Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers by Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce’s Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic’s Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers

Ambrose Bierce and Jan Freeman
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Details

  • ISBN
    9780802717689 / 0802717683
  • Title Ambrose Bierce’s Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic’s Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers
  • Author Ambrose Bierce and Jan Freeman
  • Category Historical & Comparative Linguistics
    History
  • Format
    Hardcover
  • Year 2009
  • Pages 229
  • Publisher
    Walker & Company
  • Imprint Walker & Co
  • Language English
  • Dimensions 140mm x 22mm x 204mm

Annotation

Freeman, one of America's foremost language experts and acclaimed author of the "Boston Globe's" weekly column The Word, presents an annotated edition of Ambrose Bierce's classic catalog of correct speech.

Publisher Description

One of America’s foremost language experts presents an annotated edition of A mbrose Bierce’s classic catalog of correct speech.

Ambrose Bierce is best known for "The Devil's Dictionary," but the prolific journalist, satirist, and fabulist was also a usage maven.  In 1909, he published several hundred of his pet peeves in “Write It Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults.”

Bierce's list includes some distinctions still familiar today—the “which-that” rule, “less” vs. “fewer,” “lie” and "lay — “but it also abounds in now-forgotten shibboleths: ”Ovation,“ the critics of his time agreed, meant a Roman triumph, not a round of applause. ”Reliable“ was an ill-formed coinage, not for the discriminating. ”Donate“ was pretentious, ”jeopardize“ should be ”jeopard,“ ”demean“ meant ”comport oneself,“ not ”belittle.“ And Bierce made up a few peeves of his own for good measure. We should say ”a coating of paint,“ he instructed, not ”a coat.“

To mark the 100th anniversary of ”Write It Right," language columnist Jan Freeman has investigated  where Bierce's rules and taboos originated, how they've fared in the century since the blacklist, and what lies ahead. Will our language quibbles seem as odd in 2109 as Bierce's do today?  From the evidence offered here, it looks like a very good bet.

Review
A hundred years ago, knuckle-rapper Ambrose Bierce cranked out a compendium of usage rules: “Write It Right.” Now Jan Freeman, language columnist for the Boston Globe, has published an annotated version of Bierce's bugbears: “Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right.” You'll savor Freeman's bright and breezy commentary on Bierce's often daffy dicta.—Rob Kyffe, “The Word Guy”

Author Biography

Jan Freeman has worked as an editor at The Real Paper, an alternative weekly; at Boston and Inc. magazines; and at the Boston Globe, where she was a science news editor when she launched “The Word,” her weekly column on English usage, in 1997. She lives in Auburndale, Massachusetts.

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Ambrose Bierce’s Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic’s Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers

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