Education: Pretentiousness & Pedantry

"Whoever writes English," Novelist George Orwell once said, is struggling constantly "against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective...and, above all, against the worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the language is cluttered up." But as Orwell well knew, there is one sure source of comfort and aid: all a writer has to do is to turn to the late Henry Watson Fowler's Modern English Usage.

A cross between dictionary, stylebook and guide to good taste in writing, Fowler's* has become, since 1926, the final arbiter for hundreds of...

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