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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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If hearing lines such as I could care less and This doesn t help the problem drives you bonkers, read up.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
I was surprised to see a reviewer say that it's great for students and catch-phrase-prone people but that there's not much more here than a "smug bit of fun" for those of us who already know more. I think this book is for anyone who's interested in the English language, wants to improve skills, or wants to commiserate about the sorry state of our cliché-stuffed conversations.
How many times do we hear people say `me and my brother went to the store' instead of the grammatically correct `my brother and I went' or hear our boss say the sneaky "why don't you go ahead and..." rather than make a direct request or hear someone use "literally" when giving a figurative example. If making conscious word choices is being a grammar or language snob, then you may gleefully count me in.
This is not a book on how to diagram sentences or construct a paragraph. This is a book that targets specific grammar and language errors and humorously explains why they're either wrong or, when they're not technically wrong, why they're inappropriate or overused.
I have added it to my collection of language favorites!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have skimmed it and found it not what I expected. Don't remember exactly what that was. I was an English major in graduate school, and I love grammar, syntax, use of language... Read morePublished on March 18, 2013 by Shirley Anderson
This is literally, the worst language book ever! It is simply a collection of the author's lamentation about catch phrases that he has come to loathe.Published on November 26, 2012 by Rev. Barbara Berry-Bailey
You'll find some interesting and valid grammar points here, but you'll also find a guy whose fanatical insistence on correctness leaves no room for the delights of colloquial... Read morePublished on August 25, 2011 by Patience Merriman
Truth in advertising first: I have only read sections of this book, not the whole thing.
I agree with most of the book's examples, which are beautifully explained. Read more
This book promised to be both informative and amusing. It was neither. Its pretentiousness reminded me of Bierce's WRITE IT RIGHT, except Yeager is rude and at times bigoted... Read morePublished on August 7, 2011 by Donna L. Pohlman
Funny rants about common (mis) usage. Even better, some are a tad idiosyncratic, which made them nice fodder for classroom discussion.Published on September 13, 2010 by Vicky
Again, my review is going to join the minority. I bought this before I read the reviews (mistake!), and the one from D. Kerton is right on the mark of how this book is. Read morePublished on March 4, 2010 by Mia S.
Many of the phrases disliked and despised by the author are also some of my pet peeves, but after a while he just seemed to be 'beating a dead horse' (definitely a despised... Read morePublished on June 28, 2009 by BJ Rose
This book is horrible. Yeager offers virtually no reasoning behind his many prohibitions; merely telling the reader to avoid something because it's "not a word," or because it... Read morePublished on May 26, 2009 by trivtriv