The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations: The Complete Opinionated Guide for the Careful Speaker Paperback – Jan 25 2006
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"When it comes to pronunciation," says Charles Harrington Elster, "there are two types of people: Those who don't give the subject a second thought and those who do. This book is for those who do." Those who don't will likely dismiss it as a conglomeration of minutiae (mi-N[Y]oo-shee-ee). Elster's Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations combines and expands upon his two previous books on the subject, offering historical pronunciations, authoritative opinions (his own and others'), and meandering explanations. This book is more entertaining than a game of badminton (don't say, "BAD-mitten," which Elster considers sloppy) and more lasting than a daiquiri (that's "DY-kuh-ree"). And best of all, you'll tighten up that flaccid ("FLAK-sid") pronunciation. Kudos ("KOO-dahs") to Elster for setting us straight. For now, anyway--there's a neologism ("nee-AHL-uh-jiz'm") born every day. --Jane Steinberg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Contending that a laissez-faire ("rhymes with guess way there") approach to English language pronunciation is not acceptable, this appealing guide awakens readers to the sad truth that "lots of people mispronounce words every day and plenty of people notice." Host of National Public Radio's A Way with Words, Elster has expanded and extensively revised his three previous books--including There's No Zoo in Zoology--into one delightful pronunciation guide that is not just for the cognoscenti ("KAHN-yuh-SHEN-tee"). The list of words ranges from "a"--"uh (as in ago)" or "ay (as in ate)"--to "zydeco"("rhymes with try to go"), but Elster goes way beyond a simple list of correct pronunciations. His explanatory essays refer to a wide array of research and reference tools, including dictionaries, etymologies, and such guides as the NBC Handbook of Pronunciation. Some may dismiss Elster's efforts as Sisyphean ("SIS-uh-FEE-in") or his compilation too anal ("AY-nal"). But he presents his entries with such aplomb (the second syllable "rhymes with Tom or bomb") and affection for the double entendre ("DUHB'L ahn-THAN-druh") that one cannot demur ("Pronounce mur as in murder not mural").
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
To our rescue comes Charles Harrington Elster, an expert in the ways of saying words correctly. In "The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations," he provides not only an almost exhaustive list of frequently mispronounced words, but clear and entertaining explanations and arguments of why his pronunciation is correct.
Elster has carefully researched each word, providing evidence from dictionaries, usage in broadcast media, and historical linguistics to explain why a word ought to be said in a certain way.
Elster is someone who cares about the English language. The role of language is to communicate, and communication is impossible if we cannot understand one another. Thus, common pronunciation of words is significant.
On the whole, Elster prefers pronunciations that have history and permanence. Many arguments for words I thought I'd been saying all along were clearly presented with his preferred pronunciation in my dictionary. He does concede in some cases that a common mispronunciation of a word has become correct, by sheer weight of usage. He also is careful to note pronunciations that differ between British and American English. He also provides the correct pronunciation of some names and places.
As someone who shares Elster's love of the language, I recommend this book highly. It's one of my most-used reference books, and not just because it's stored in the guest bathroom.
Most recent customer reviews
Mr Elster's intuitive pronunciation key makes life so much easier than trying to struggle through the IPA, SAMPA or enPR that you always find in dictionaries. Read morePublished on May 21 2010 by Steven Repstock
[...]. the author's rules are, indeed, entirely arbitrary.
simply performing a mental utterance of many of his "proper" pronunciations affected me as strongly as a fingernail... Read more
Ha! I was coming here to praise this book with the exception of the pronunciation given for "Newfoundland"; it appears that others have commented on this topic ... Read morePublished on Nov. 6 2000 by jensara
If you have ever gone into convulsions upon hearing the word "government" pronounced "GUV-uh-mint," then this book is for you. Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2000 by W. Doyle
Ill-informed snobs like Elster give prescriptivism a bad name.
One can legitimately adopt a prescriptive (= this is proper, thus correct) rather than a descriptive (= this is... Read more
Read in the proper spirit, this is an absolutely hysterical book (in whatever sense of "hysterical" one choses). Read morePublished on Sept. 4 2000 by Richard Hershberger
Anyone who gives this book a poor review has a chip on his shoulder about Americans and American English. Read morePublished on June 2 2000 by Ash
If you've been looking for a book that will teach you to be a complete drag about pronunciation, look no further. Read morePublished on Dec 27 1999
Elster created a pronunciation guide that both informs and entertains. His careful attention to well-worded phrases and lively writing style forms a pronunciation guide with an... Read morePublished on Dec 13 1999 by ApparentNewParent
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