WORDS FAIL US: GOOD ENGLISH AND OTHER LOST CAUSES
Volume 21 Number 4
If you are a long-time fan of Books in Canada's "english, our english" column (1980-1988), Words Fail Us will bring back some very fond memories. And even if you never had a chance to read Blackburn's column, you will still enjoy this very lively collection of mini-essays, commentaries, and "layman's lament about linguistic anarchy."
It is all too easy to dismiss as pedantic cranks those who decry the decline of precise language. Blackburn puts the lie to that perception - he explores, always with wit and taste, and often with uproarious humour, the cruelties inflicted upon words by those who should know better. Blackburn is more than aware that the English language is ever evolving and ever changing - his reflections on the metamorphoses words have undergone make that point quite clear. At the same time, he is certainly sensitive to issues overlooked by far too many writers, announcers and readers.
Words Fail Us is a worthwhile addition to any general collection, and is of particular value to senior high schools that offer courses in journalism and non-fiction writing. Language is flexible, but all writers need to be reminded of the limits to which it may be bent. Blackburn does an admirable job in this regard.
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Sisler High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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