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Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words

di Bill Bryson

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1,807147,540 (3.68)17
What's the difference between mean and median, blatant and flagrant, flout and flaunt? Is it whodunnit or whodunit? Do you know? Are you sure? With Troublesome Words, Bill Bryson offers a clear, concise and entertaining guide to the problems of English usage that has been an indispensable companion to those who work with the written word for decades. So if you want to discover whether you should care about split infinitives, are cursed with an overuse of commas or were wondering if that newsreader was right to say 'an historic day', this superb book is the place to find out.… (altro)
Aggiunto di recente dahillmank88, ikflibrarians, npillow1974, LentzCyn, biblioteca privata, alanese, GHEdwards, vwalch, LoriLovesBooks
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» Vedi le 17 citazioni

I found Bill Bryson's, "Notes from a Small Island" to be a comfortable and comforting read during a long period of enforced isolation and mild stress during the Covid 19 pandemic. Reading Bryson is much like visiting with a friend recently returned from a trip abroad. Every page brought a smile and sometimes a laugh and once or twice a belly shaking, knee slapping roar (I'll not reveal the genesis of those, since you may suspect me having of perverted or at least a peculiar risibility.
There is more to this book than the humor and the travelogue: it is a touching insight into the sensibilities of a decent, worthy man.
  RonWelton | Feb 16, 2021 |
Some of this is useful as a reference. Most of it is boring as reading material. It feels like his personal notes on words that bother him, sometimes because he mixes them up, sometimes because others do.

Now and again Bryson shows that he doesn't know German. Baron Munchhausen is known to most German-speakers (legend), not 'almost exclusively in medical circles'. Luxembourg is the French form of the name, Luxemburg the German (not anglicized). Both languages are official in the country that calls itself Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg in its own language. Little failures like these in research make me question his other statements.

This refers to the 2015 edition. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Aug 5, 2017 |
A friend asked if this is worth getting. I replied,

Hm, it's certainly briefer than Garner's modern usage, which I am reading cover to cover. But less meaty might be just right. (In Garner I hiccuped my wonted plodding A-to-Z to see what Garner says about which's increasing use as a conjunction. Surprisingly (to me), he doesn't mention it.)

Some of Bryson's explanations I doubt you need (antennae or antennas, auger v. augur), but your students might. Some I don't care about (short of publication), such as that All Souls College doesn't take an apostrophe. Some are just Bryson's superiority: "Alas! Poor Yorick. I knew him (-well), Horatio" doesn't belong in a dictionary. If he includes that he should include "Play it again, Sam, too" (he doesn't).

Some are his Britishness: He tells how to pronounce British (Gonville and) Caius College and Pall Mall but not Usan places such as Gloucester, Peabody, and Worcester. He gives the spelling bit not the pronunciation f the Welsh word "eisteddfod."

Perhaps a quarter of the entries on nuances of meaning I do appreciate (e.g., ambiguous v. equivocal). I remember being taking to task for writing "complacent" when I meant "complaisant."
  ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
Fabulous book for writing starters or just dipping into word meanings and origins and literary connections. ( )
  literateowl | Jan 22, 2013 |
Who knew Bill Bryson started out his career as a copyeditor of the business section at the London Times? I now know the origin of the word "flak" and the meaning of "zoonotic"... A handy guide, to be perused at leisure.
1 vota NeveMaslakovic | Dec 20, 2010 |
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What's the difference between mean and median, blatant and flagrant, flout and flaunt? Is it whodunnit or whodunit? Do you know? Are you sure? With Troublesome Words, Bill Bryson offers a clear, concise and entertaining guide to the problems of English usage that has been an indispensable companion to those who work with the written word for decades. So if you want to discover whether you should care about split infinitives, are cursed with an overuse of commas or were wondering if that newsreader was right to say 'an historic day', this superb book is the place to find out.

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