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Robert Hartwell Fiske's Dictionary of Unendurable English: A Compendium of Mistakes in Grammar, Usage, and Spelling with commentary on lexicographers and linguists Paperback – November 1, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Word snobs and copy editors should love [this book] and cherish it as a reference. Those learning English can benefit, too. Folks who think they have English down pat ought to read it. ... This is, of course, a form of knuckle rapping. Fiske, to his credit, makes it a pleasure to endure." -- Andrew Allentuck in the National Post

"Fiske, the language-obsessed creator of online journal The Vocabula Review, does not mince words. Nor shall I: His dictionary is one of the grumpiest, most self-righteous intellectual exercises I've ever had the genuine pleasure of reading." -- Mia Lipman, Shelfari

"[Fiske's] documentation of brand creep is fascinating: Reporters use non-words such as 'alleve' (a misspelled rendering of a commercial analgesic) when they mean to say 'relieve.' 'Abilify' -- an antidepressant -- has been perverted into a synonym for 'enable.'" -- Sheila Anne Feeney, Star-Ledger

"A helpful compendium for even the most literate among us, not to mention a refreshingly conservative addition to the increasingly liberal domain of dictionaries, ... [Fiske's book]  is a confrontational work challenging the evermore yielding traditions within the discipline of lexicography." -- Christina Connolly, Library Journal

"Distinguishing between the many guides for writers and speakers of the English language may appear difficult at first glance, but on closer examination of bookstore and library shelves, one at least, Robert Hartwell Fiske's Dictionary of Unendurable English, is notable for the courage of its convictions." -- Mike Nichol, Daily Writing Tips

From the Author

Robert's new book, Elegant English, is available from Vocabula Books (vocabula.com).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451651325
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451651324
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #884,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I love this book . In hundreds of entries, Fiske clarifies the differences between confused words like consul and council, moribund and morbid, descant and decant. More than that, however, he with biting wit or laugh-out-loud humor, makes plain the reasons for speaking and writing with clarity and precision, qualities I agree are often absent in today's language. In The Dictionary of Unendurable English, Fiske also, unlike other authors of books on English usage that I've read, rails against lexicographers and linguists whom he holds responsible for the indifference so many today feel for how they speak and write. Fiske's book is a noble effort to restore dignity, and meaning, to the English language. I recommend it highly to all people, like me, who love words and language.
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Format: Paperback
"Robert Hartwell Fiske's Dictionary of Unendurable English" is such an achievement I'll have difficulty being brief. Campaigning to keep English viable and elegant, Fiske combats the sloppy and the non-standard. His book recounts careless sources that deteriorate our language; those that support and even encourage poor usage. As I get older and my own grammar and spelling stumble, reading the public mistakes listed here certainly comfort and amuse. Fiske has gleaned these risible atrocities from sources often considered unassailable.
Was the dictionary once your unimpeachable source? Did you know the OED now includes LOL and the "I heart you" symbol? Is this English? Are they necessary? How long will they need to be listed? Read Fiske's opinion and rating of our contemporary dictionaries.
Some years ago my dear old mom went into a tizzy when it was announced by some lofty source that the infinitive could be split ("to boldly go" as Star Trek would lamentably state). If you like she, value our unique, rich language and hope to sustain English eloquent, liberate yourself from the slang bullies, the betrayal of dictionaries, the coinage of the ghastly and read this book!
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Although I love reading about some of the really stupid mistakes people make, I fear writing a review of any of Robert`s books. I`m certain that no matter how careful I am I will err my way into the realm of dimwittedness.
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I Love this book! Nothing irritates me quite like words that aren't used in the right way, or that are spelled wrong. This book should be one of many that teach adults what they should have learned in their school days, and a requirement before being allowed to use or speak the English language in public settings. It is full of helpful information on many words that are used and misused daily. It's about time someone created a book that teaches how not to use a word, but also teaches which word(s) should be used. Wonderful book!
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Anything he writes or is involved with is worth spending some time with if one enjoys English grammer.I think I now have all of his books. If you enjoy this take a look at vocabulabooks.com
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Robert Hartwell Fiske is a genius. His books are treasure. When Robert speaks, we listen, and we proceed to write with confidence.

Thank you for this brilliant work, Mr. Fiske!
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