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American Tongue and Cheek: A Populist Guide to Our Language Hardcover – January 1, 1980


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books; 1st edition (1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394509056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394509051
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,966,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I don't know if you remember, but there was a string of crabby bookx in the eighties-- John Simon, Edwin Neuhouse, William Safire were the front runners, but there were lots more, it was a burgeoning industry for awhile there for the stampers out of "language sin." all sounding like Andy Rooney: "You know what I hate? I hate it when people say 'X,' when they really should say 'Y.' "
Then Quinn's book came out and-- I think this is what did it-- it pretty much shut that whole thing down, for at least ten or fifteen years. (It's a job that's never finished for good, it's more ongoing, like weeding. Menken put in a fair amount of work on it, decades earlier.)
Quinn's take on what the "language sins people" were proposing, and his demonstrations of the error of their ways, are always very amusing, often outrageous, and ultimately unanswerable. It's a very good book-- you will argue with it as you read it.
He became a kind of "language guy" himself, in the process-- he was nicer to Safire than to the rest of them, and Safire still quotes him sometimes in his NY Times column.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a review of the review posted here a decade ago headed "Language gurus have no clothes" or so. I would not trust a reviewer who thinks that Edwin Newman is Edwin "Neuhouse", or misspells "Mencken", or types "awhile" for "a while". He calls Quinn's points "ultimately unanswerable". On the contrary, Quinn probably establishes beyond doubt almost nothing. Neither do what he calls the pop grammarians, of course, prove their claims -- Newman, Safire, Bernstein, Baker, Lederer et many al. The best of these writers are illuminating and amusing, but none of them has the patience to devote as many words to the discussions as are needed -- probably because no one would then buy their books, for one thing. Check out the 1981 NY Times review of this book by Chris Lehmann-Haupt, a review which is itself flawed -- the reviewer, for instance, refers to a word invented by Shakespeare in 1509.... I gave this book 3 stars, btw, simply because I am required to rate it before I can submit a review of a review. I've not read the book; I've read only the NY Times review of it.

I don't know if you remember, but there was a string of crabby bookx in the eighties-- John Simon, Edwin Neuhouse, William Safire were the front runners, but there were lots more, it was a burgeoning industry for awhile there for the stampers out of "language sin." all sounding like Andy Rooney: "You know what I hate? I hate it when people say 'X,' when they really should say 'Y.' "
Then Quinn's book came out and-- I think this is what did it-- it pretty much shut that whole thing down, for at least ten or fifteen years. (It's a job that's never finished for good, it's more ongoing, like weeding.
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