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Junk English Paperback – November 9, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
This is not a grammar book, but one which looks at current shoddy word use as a human foible: "It is sometimes innocent, sometimes lazy, sometimes well intended, but most often it is a trick we play on ourselves to make the unremarkable seem important... Junk English is the linguistic equivalent of junk food - ingest it long enough and your brain goes soft." Smith's book is a compilation of examples which he has spotted in print or broadcast, and he has obviously a good ear and eye for them; Smith admits that he uses such phrases, just as everyone does, and reading this book is an exercise in humility, for sometimes only after Smith points out a common usage does it seem junk. For instance, under the section "People Reduction," Smith points out that "people" and "person" are disappearing from usage, replaced by "individual" or "individuals.Read more ›
Our second reaction, however, is to realize that though we may think we know our language well (and we probably do, compared to our peers), we don't know it nearly as well as we should, or as well as Ken Smith does. We'll see examples in this book of lexical misdeeds that we ourselves commit on a regular basis, and we'll fret, "How can I continue to call myself a stickler for grammar when my perspicacity is not perfect and complete?"
The third reaction, I think, is depression. Smith is certainly right about Junk English, its origins and its consequences. But who cares? Aside from those of us who pay attention (and we're a precious tiny little minority), accuracy in written and spoken English is declasse. I often feel that advertising, PR propaganda, political reportage, and corporate communications are written largely by morons for other morons, so everyone's satisfied. What is to be done? Smith isn't trying to provide a solution to our language's ills, but his focusing on the problem does raise the question.
My mild criticism of the book consists in Smith's apparent lack of patience with whimsy, colloquialism, and artistic embellishment. Sometimes, when we neglect to use the most economical or efficient word, we do so on purpose -- to use the "au courant" argot of a specific constituency, to dress up a sentence for the simple love of language, or just for fun.Read more ›
I think if this book had "profundized" any further, it would no longer suit its intended audience, as Mr. Smith states so himself in his opening message: "This book is a broad overview of an encyclopedic subject. Much had to be pared away... My intent was to keep this book small and handy so that it would be useful to a spectrum of people, for Junk English will not go away until all of us recognize it."
The experts in psychology and semiotics have far less of a need for this book than the person trying to decode the text on their credit card bill.
A very necessary book!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
everyone should keep this book on their desk as a reference - it makes you aware of the unnecessary filler words we use every day. a simple, useful reference for all writers.Published on March 24, 2013 by jenilee4843
Smith makes many valid points in this book, detailing many ways in which the language is commonly abused. Read morePublished on October 17, 2005 by James Yanni
As a professional writer, I enjoy discussions about language and the (often comical) pitfalls that exist for those who unintentionally misuse language. Read morePublished on March 5, 2005 by RRChelsey
I was a little disappointed by this book since I'm a great fan of Ken Smith. All of his previous books were written on other interesting topics and resulted in some really fun and... Read morePublished on January 11, 2005 by Ryan Hennessy
Ken Smith has written an equally dazzling and puzzling book that will leave you wondering what words you might have overused... Read morePublished on December 15, 2003 by Adam Chen
Not your mamma's grammar book, Junk English is as much about the politics of writing as it is about the concrete idea of solid grammar. Read morePublished on October 1, 2003 by Robert L. Brewer
The author's intention is sound: to rid the world of junk (imprecise) English. The need for this is obvious - even the best writers fall prey to redundant or misused words. Read morePublished on June 24, 2003 by therosen
This book has no linguistic basis. It is merely the personal preferences of this particular writer. It is tedious and uninspired.Published on March 17, 2003
Humbling. Sometimes I felt hopeless. I thought I was something of a proper-use-of-language freak but he made me feel like I never want to speak again. Read morePublished on February 19, 2003