Quite Literally : Problem Words and How to use Them book cover
1st Edition

Quite Literally
Problem Words and How to use Them

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ISBN 9780415651264
Published October 29, 2012 by Routledge
268 Pages

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Book Description

This is a guide to English usage for readers and writers, professional and amateur, established and aspiring, formal trainees and those trying to break in; students of English, both language and literature, and their teachers.

In Quite Literally, Wynford Hicks answers questions like:

  • What's an alibi, a bete noire, a celibate, a dilemma?
  • Should underway be two words?
  • Is the word 'meretricious' worth using at all?
  • How do you spell realise - with an s or a z - and should bete be bête?
  • Should you split infinitives, end sentences with prepositions, start them with conjunctions?
  • What about four-letter words, euphemisms, foreign words, Americanizms, clichés, slang, jargon?
  • And does the Queen speak the Queen's English?

The advice given can be applied to both formal speech - what is carefully considered, broadcast, presented, scripted or prepared for delivery to a public audience - and will even enhance your everyday languange too!

Practical and fun, whether to improve your writing for professional purposes or simply enjoy exploring the highways and byways of English usage, readers from all walks of life will find this book both invaluable and enjoyable.

Table of Contents

Problem words A-Z

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Wynford Hicks is a freelance journalist and editorial trainer specialising in the use of English, subediting and writing styles. He is the author of the successful English for Journalists and Writing for Journalists and the joint author of Subediting for Journalists, all published by Routledge. He now lives in France.


'Hicks has a good eye for otiose construction and puffed-up words ... he trawls contemporary literature, blue pencil poised, marking down Margaret Drabble, Jonathan Franzen and even the Queen' - Times Literary Supplement

'Hicks' book is a useful and entertaining addition to any home or school library' - The Teacher

'For any language enthusiast, this is so entertaining you can't put it down' - Mantex book reviews

'This handy book should stand on the desk of anyone engaged in written communication' - Church Times, The Church of England Newspaper

'Wynford Hicks really does have a way with words ... the correct way. Whether you want to improve your writing for professional purposes or just want to know more about our native language this book provides excellent value.' - Sunday Sun