From Publishers Weekly
Unlike Lynne Truss, author of the bestselling Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Australian linguist Burridge sees her role regarding language as more descriptive than prescriptive. But Trusss fans may also enjoy dipping into this look at the ever-morphing English language. Burridges book developed from a series of short pieces she wrote for her down-under radio show, and its a delightful guide to the complexities and idiosyncrasies of the English language. The authors own prose is graceful and easygoing as she explains why Eliza Doolittle said "absobloominlutely" and not "abbloominsolutely" and how irregularities in a language "are typically relics of past regularity." Brief sidebars focus on particular illustrations of her subject, such as the 12th-century appearance of the pronoun "she" (which prevented English from having a gender-neutral third-person pronoun) and the mystery of the disappearing l (think of "calm" and "walk"). Anyone fascinated by the vagaries of English will enjoy taking a stroll in Burridges blooming linguistic garden.
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"Unique among books about the social aspects of the English language published in this decade, this work combines an impressive breadth and depth of learning with a common touch and a readable style." Library Journal
"Popular treatments of English usage abound. But this book brings a fresh perspective to the topic drawing an analogy between 'weeds' in a garden and so-called errors of English usage. This metaphor is sustained throughout the book and really helps the reader understand that many usages that we condemn as 'weeds' (e.g. ain't or double negatives) were at one time quite ordinary members of the linguistic 'garden'." Charles F. Meyer, University of Massachusetts