We all have dictionaries, right? (If you do not, just humor me and say you do. Please.) However, as Fiske illustrates in his book, dictionaries are not what they used to be. Prominent dictionaries, including the vaunted Merriam Webster, have increasingly resorted to including nonstandard English, i.e. improper English, in their texts, all in the name of recording English as it is used, rather than how it should be used. Fiske attacks this concept of "descriptivist" as inexcusable. Although I admit that English does evolve, I am firmly in Fiske's camp - dictionaries should champion proper English, not popular English. After reading this book, you may find yourself taking up arms in Fiske's war as well.
In The Dictionary of Disagreeable English, Fiske has compiled a rogue's gallery of painfully incorrect English. If you love acerbic sarcasm, you're in for a treat. Fiske's acidic commentary is frequently laugh out loud funny, as are the truly hideous examples of murdered grammar which Fiske has culled from journalists, celebrities, and politicians. As much fun as this book is to read, The Dictionary of Disagreeable English is also a handy, informative guide to avoiding the most common grammatical pitfalls. Fiske lists frequent misspellings, misuses (my favorite being "grisly" for "grizzly"), mispronunciations, and non existent words which are used with alarming frequency. Fiske also targets so-called "idiotic" words (many which were developed in business) which he argues have no place in the language, i.e. "consequate" and "office" as a verb. Many of the mistakes are absolutely inexcusable, but he also explains many grammar rules which are not common knowledge. (I was mortified to find several mistakes that I frequently make. I will never, ever use "plus" in a non-mathematical context as long as I live. Forgive me! I knew not what I did!)
If you are a fellow grammar geek/word nerd, you will adore this book. You will laugh at Fiske's biting wit and you will cry at some of the most foul atrocities that were committed against the English language in the examples provided. The Dictionary of Disagreeable English is the perfect way to both amuse and educate yourself. *cough* It would also make an excellent last minute gift suggestion this holiday season. *cough*
Next Time: I am reading Markus Zusak's The Book Thief and loving it. PIA suggested it to me and Penguins Quack raved about it on Sparklife a few weeks ago, so I cannot wait to finish and blog about it.