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Old 11-26-2005, 07:43 AM   #1
Michael Rowley
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George:

I never heard of Fowler's

Modern English Usage by H. W. Fowler (1926) was the first and only edition by the author; a second edition, very sparingly revised, was edited by Ernest Gowers and was published in 1965. Fowler's Modern English Usage was a new book by the late R. W. Burchfield and published in 1995; it shouldn't strictly have been published as the 'third' edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage.

I think you can still get the 2nd edition.

   
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Old 11-26-2005, 12:15 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by George
Hmm--I never heard of Fowler's. Now you have me curious. I'm going to look into it.
Do (the 2nd edition, as Michael suggests — that is what I meant by the old one; old but not ancient is what I meant!). Among other things it is an entertaining read. The book expresses opinions. I’m pretty sure you’ll like it.

I checked Abebooks and found a whole page of the Fowler’s 2nd edition, some very cheap. Mine is dated in the 1950s, but I do not think there were any significant changes after that until the 3rd edition, so any of the books shown on that page should do.

   
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Old 11-26-2005, 01:03 PM   #3
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KT:

Mine is dated in the 1950s

Then it is a reprint of the original edition. The main change Gowers made was to eliminate some of Fowler's more idiosyncratic headings for the entries, which can be annoying in a book ordered alphabetically: that is why I recommend the second edition. Burchfield sometimes sat firmly on the fence, which is something Fowler never did.

   
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Old 11-26-2005, 04:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Michael Rowley
Burchfield sometimes sat firmly on the fence, which is something Fowler never did.
Right. I prefer Fowler to Burchfield, despite my generally liberal approach to life.

While I do understand (and even enjoy) that language changes, it is the role of the Fowlers of this world to keep the pace under control!

   
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Old 11-26-2005, 02:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ktinkel
Do (the 2nd edition, as Michael suggests — that is what I meant by the old one; old but not ancient is what I meant!). Among other things it is an entertaining read. The book expresses opinions. I’m pretty sure you’ll like it.

I checked Abebooks and found a whole page of the Fowler’s 2nd edition, some very cheap. Mine is dated in the 1950s, but I do not think there were any significant changes after that until the 3rd edition, so any of the books shown on that page should do.
Ok, thanks. I bookmarked the page. However, the library had the 3rd edition, so I put it on hold. I think I'll look at it first. Actually, from what has been said, it would be interesting to look at all three editions.

BTW, now that I think about it, maybe, they did teach grammar in school. I know I had the record for cutting class, and even when I went, I usually just read a book, instead of listening to the teacher. So, maybe, they did teach grammar. Pitt just took me in as an experiment, and it worked out, but I was informed that knowledge of grammar was assumed, and errors would not be tolerated.

Regards,

George
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Old 11-26-2005, 04:51 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by George
Ok, thanks. I bookmarked the page. However, the library had the 3rd edition, so I put it on hold. I think I'll look at it first. Actually, from what has been said, it would be interesting to look at all three editions.
Burchfield is permissive, in the modern style. Fowler was less so, and much more humorous.

Do try to read both the 2nd and 3rd editions. The contrasts are interesting.

   
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Old 11-29-2005, 02:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
Burchfield is permissive, in the modern style. Fowler was less so, and much more humorous.

Do try to read both the 2nd and 3rd editions. The contrasts are interesting.
Kathleen,

I've taken a first look at the 3rd edition of Fowler's, and I like it very much. Or should I say, it's all tickety-boo, as it is heavy duty British. Still, it's a great review of the English language for anyone, and I'll probably have it soon for bedside reading.

It has a lot of reference to the OED, which I've never had any luck with and gave up on years ago in favor of Random House. However, I suspect Fowler's is going straight to what is useful from the OED. I like how it employs Greek fonts on etymology, which, I think, is another British trait based in tradition. It could have me spelling things like "insofar as" unconventionally, but I think I can separate all the British-isms.

Now, I'm definitely going to look at the 2nd edition, and my guess is, I'll end up getting a copy of both. (That's a challenge as I now have a house rule, that I can't buy a new book unless I get rid of one to make room for it).

Thanks a lot.

Regards,

George

(P.S. -- for the curious Americans, "tickety-boo" means "hunky-dory").
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Old 11-29-2005, 04:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by George
I've taken a first look at the 3rd edition of Fowler's, and I like it very much.
Good. But now be sure to look at the 2nd edition — it is very different, and I would expect more to your taste!

Quote:
Originally Posted by George
Now, I'm definitely going to look at the 2nd edition, and my guess is, I'll end up getting a copy of both. (That's a challenge as I now have a house rule, that I can't buy a new book unless I get rid of one to make room for it.)
That’s okay — just list the candidates here and I am sure we can help you decide which to jettison! <g>

   
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Old 11-30-2005, 12:21 PM   #9
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Good. But now be sure to look at the 2nd edition — it is very different, and I would expect more to your taste!
I stopped by a used book store near the house. They had a 1983 reprint of the original edition. It cost two dollars. The forward gave two examples of how the original edition was actually better than the revision, and therefore, necessary. Hmm--but was the publisher just using an excuse of the 50th anniversary to make some money?? Still, it looks really good.

Henry Watson Fowler notes he began the book with his brother, but he died of tuberculosis from service in WWI, and unfortunately none of his writings are included. Fowler himself died in 1933, so maybe his life was meant to be just this book. He said he had started with his brother a Pocket Oxford Dictionary. I wonder if he finished it. It might be worth looking at. (Not -- at which it might be worth looking).

I guess it's just a matter of time before I come across the revised edition.

Regards,

George
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Old 11-30-2005, 02:23 PM   #10
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George:

Fowler himself died in 1933, so maybe his life was meant to be just this book

H. W. Fowler published a well-known book, The King's English, with his brother Frank before the First War. He also edited the first edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary. The Pocket Oxford Dictionary is still going strong; we were each issued with that at school about 1944. Since he came to writing late after many years as a schoolmaster, he can't be said not to have had a busy life.

   
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