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Literally, the Best Language Book Ever: Annoying Words and Abused Phrases You Should Never Use Again Paperback – May 6, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399534237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399534232
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

““If hearing lines such as ‘I could care less’ and ‘This doesn’t help the problem’ drives you bonkers, read up.”
--Real Simple --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Paul Yeager is the managing editor of Accuweather.com and a freelance writer. As a child, he was annoyed when reading, writing, and arithmetic were referred to as the “Three R’s,” and he hasn’t changed a bit over the years. He lives in Altoona, PA.

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Customer Reviews

I thought more people would leave this book with the same impression I did.
Kerton
The author seems to have written this book more on phrases that he dislikes, and then proceeds to explain the minute detail that is incorrect in the phrase.
Mia S.
Its pretentiousness reminded me of Bierce's WRITE IT RIGHT, except Yeager is rude and at times bigoted without either humor or wit.
Donna L. Pohlman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Kerton on June 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Wow, was I surprised to see that my report will be in the minority here. I thought more people would leave this book with the same impression I did. I was hanging around at a Barnes and Noble and picked this book up. I enjoyed the first two entries I read, so bought the book for reading in my...ahem, boudoir -- I enjoy books with short sections that can occupy my brief time therein.

The author promises to point out trite and hackneyed abuses of the language, but what I found was a simpleton's guide to expressions that had grown old and repetitive to him. Why would I call the author a simpleton? Because he is just plain wrong on over half of the expressions that he criticizes. He makes fun of some items correctly, such as abuses of "literally" and "unique", or some overworked catchphrases like "Where's the beef?", but then loses it.

Many of the expressions he abhors are actually rich in history, and represent an admirable nod to tradition, human experience, etymology, and different eras. For example, he hates, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." and says it's silly for modern, urbanized people to be talking about chickens. Really? The "chickens" are from Aesop's Fable 'The Milk Maid' and date back to 600 BC. An old reference, for sure, but I think the expression has proven itself to have some staying power. For this writer to come along and say we should abandon classic references to such seminal works as Aesop's Fables, just because he's bored of hearing it, is just him griping - and demonstrating an ignorance of literature, history, and etymology. How can one write a book on language with that handicap?

Many others of his gripes fall into the "you don't own chickens, so find a better way to express yourself" formula.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas L. on August 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
While I abhor the misuse of apostrophes as much as the next guy, I don't bear the same indignation over the vernacular use of language, as Yeager does. Casual use of English doesn't always imply the speaker is an uneducated low-brow, as the tone of his book would lead you to believe.

Sure, there are some egregious examples -- using "should of" in place of "should have", for instance, makes me wince -- but many of his peeves are simply common, idiosyncratic usages that aren't all that offensive.

So I wouldn't recommend this book as a "how-not-to" reference for writing, because I think many of its examples are far too restrictive and petty. But it might come in handy as a way to prevent yourself from slipping into habitual, sloppy writing or speaking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark M. on August 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
This isn't the typical grammar or language book, which is probably one of the nicest things about it. I liked that instead of dealing with the same grammar errors that every other book deals with (although he does have several chapters on straight grammar errors), the author shines a light on expressions that most of us use every day without thinking.

Some of the entries are the writer's opinion, but so are a lot of the so-called grammar "errors" that I've seen in other books, and some of the entries ARE strict grammar errors that people who really know grammar would agree on. I'm surprised to see some reviewers pick on individual entries from the book; with over 350 entries, who's going to agree with ALL of them! Come on people! The author has a good sense of humor and uses it to get his points across. At least he did for me.

Just read it and enjoy it. It's a funny book. As the author says, he's not trying to be a language dictator; he's just trying to get people to think before speaking.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Reeves on May 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
When I first saw the book advertised, I made a list of the phrases and comments I thought would be covered. While not a comprehensive listing, the author really hit a home run with the breadth of comments. Some of the offending statement do make commentary more colorful but typically, they add words without understanding whether their usage is really critical to the meaning. In a way, this is using the extreme form of euphemisms and, by virtue of doing so, obscuring the meaning of the statement being made. The book does not seem intended to be deeply thought provoking and, while I did not agree with everything, I did find myself strongly agreeing with quite a few of his observations. It can be read quickly in one sitting or can be used to provide shorter, entertaining breaks in your day.

Many of these phrases are just an example of our need to be constantly talking -- constantly making noise in an attempt to turn the right phrase to make us appear glib and entertaining. I enjoyed the author taking apart language as it is commonly used. Was that literally or figuratively taking apart? Read it and decide which is correct.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Wall on May 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
I bought this book after hearing the author go off on a funny rant about the word "issue" during a radio interview. When exactly DID "issue" stop meaning "topic" and become yet another synonym for "problem"? It was this Andy-Rooney-with-a-sense-of-humor approach to language that sold me on "Literally, the Best Language Book Ever: Annoying Words and Abused Phrases You Should Never Use Again."

The book covers hundreds of communication missteps, but deals with each one in an easily digested 1-3 paragraphs. The tone is lighthearted, but the importance of clear communication is never trivialized. It's probably the easiest and most enjoyable book about language that I've read.
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