'Stuffed with entertaining detail ... Horrible Words is lively, provocative, witty and enlightening' The Times
Nothing inflames the language purists like an illogical irregardless or a hideous otherization. But is it enough simply to dismiss these words as vile and barbarous howlers? Taking a genial tour far and wide through our linguistic badlands, Rebecca Gowers finds answers that are helpful, surprising and often extremely funny.
'Exuberant, erudite, informative and fun ... a call on all English-speakers to trust their own feel for their language, to relish their verbal inventiveness and to do battle against the pedants who tell them they are wrong' Michael Skapinker, Financial Times
'A very useful book, packed with good historical sense' Lynne Truss, The Times
'Be short, be simple, be human.'
When Sir Ernest Gowers first wrote Plain Words, it was intended simply as a guide to the proper use of English for the Civil Service. Within a year, however, its humour, charm and authority had made it a bestseller. Since then it has never been out of print.
Six decades on, writer Rebecca Gowers has created a new edition of this now-classic work that both revises and celebrates her great-grandfather's original. Plain Words has been updated to reflect numerous changes in English usage, yet Sir Ernest's distinctive, witty voice is undimmed. And his message remains vital: our writing should be as clear and comprehensible as possible, avoiding superfluous words and clichés - from the jargon of 'commercialese' to the murky euphemisms of politicians.
In a new preface, this edition draws on an extensive private archive, previously hidden away in family cupboards and attics, to tell the story behind a book that has become an institution: the essential guide to making yourself understood.
Rebecca Gowers is the author of The Swamp of Death, shortlisted for the CWA non-fiction Golden Dagger Award, and of two novels, When to Walk and The Twisted Heart, both longlisted for the Orange Prize. She is also the most recent editor of Plain Words, the classic guide to the use of English by her great-grandfather Sir Ernest Gowers.