May 24, 2013

Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language

From The Uncommon Criminal by Kyle De Wolf (author's profile)


April 24, 2013

Origins of the Specious
Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language
Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman

Random House (2009)
266 pp. $22

My celly loaned me this delightful little book because "it is just the kind of crap [1] would read." Patricia O'Conner is a lovable old dork. She tackles a lot of the nonsense people try to tell you about the English language, including spurious word origins, usages, and rules of grammar. She often vindicates the alleged errors of the common person, and sticks it to the schoolmarms and other linguistic authoritarians.

Of course, I looked up the bad words first. The four letter words we now consider vulgar are derived from Anglo-Saxon roots and were once perfectly acceptable in polite company. But in the Middle Ages the Norman French took over England and looked down their noses at their English subjects. So the words used by the common people became "vulgar" while the French and Latin words used by their imperial overlords were considered "polite." Our modern prisses and prudes and vinegar-brandishing grandmothers are still beholden to the class prejudices of fourteenth century dictators and social parasites. Fuck!

There is a lot of food for thought in this little volume, and it is a little more fun than your average dictionary or grammar. I would highly recommend it to all writers, wordsmiths, and tellers of tales.

Contact me:

Kyle De Wolf 14966-052
LSCI Allenwood
P.O. Box 1000
White Deer, PA 17887

Letters & Correspondence Welcome!


Replies (1) Replies feed

vdruhe Posted 5 years, 12 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
You are such a fine writer!

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