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

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.
Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers
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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.
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.
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
Ambrose Bierce, Jan Freeman
Publisher
Walker & Company
Language
English
ISBN-10
0802717683
ISBN-13
9780802717689
Media
Book
Format
Hardcover
Year
2009
Publication Date
2009-11-30
Short Title
AMBROSE BIERCES WRITE IT RIGHT
DEWEY
428
Pages
229
Imprint
Walker & Co
Place of Publication
New York
Country of Publication
United States
Subtitle
The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers
Residence
OH, US
Birth
1842
Death
1914
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