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From empty cliche to meaningless jargon, dangling participle to sentences without verbs, the English language is reeling. It is under attack from all sides. Politicians dupe us with deliberately evasive language. Bosses worry about impacting the bottom line while they think out of the box. Academics talk obscure mumbo jumbo. Journalists and broadcasters, who should know better, lazily collaborate.

John Humphrys wittily and powerfully exposes the depths to which our beautiful language has sunk and offers many examples of the most common atrocities. He also dispenses some sensible guidance on how to use simple, clear and honest language. Above all, he shows us how to be on the alert for the widespread abuse - especially by politicians - and the power of the English language.


4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Anne

Chilling examples of how words can obscure and confuse

The author thinks that words and clarity of writing are important. He accepts that the meanings of words can change over the years and that the rules of language should exist to help the reader rather than hinder the writer but thinks that words are becoming devalued and with that phenomenon comes fuzzy and confused thinking. More worryingly, language is then used to hide rather than illuminate meaning.

With a wealth of examples drawn from advertising, newspapers, speeches and textbooks the author demonstrates his point. You will find yourself laughing at times and realising that he has put into words thoughts which you had not quite articulated, but you will probably disagree with some of the strong opinions which he expresses. If you have any interest in words and language you will have plenty here to provoke thought.

The final section of the book concentrates on politicians and how they use words and especially the "war on terror". This was topical when the book was written and it is still fascinating to look at that period from this point of view but as the issues are not quite so immediate you may not feel as strongly about matters as John Humphreys does; it would be interesting to have an update of this book examining language use around the "economic downturn" and NHS "reforms".

A very interesting book which will result in you looking very carefully at what you read in future.

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