Garner's Modern American Usage
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|Garner's Modern American Usage|
|Author||Bryan A. Garner|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Dewey Decimal||423/.1 22|
|LC Classification||PE2827 .G37 2003|
Garner's Modern American Usage, edited by Bryan Garner, is a usage guide for contemporary American English. Modern American Usage covers issues of usage, pronunciation, and style, from plurals and literary techniques to distinctions between similar words and the usage of foreign terms.
Editions and Related Books
The first edition was published in 1998 as A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. In 2003, the second edition was published under the current title with a third more content than its predecessor. A third edition is scheduled for publication and release in July 2009. Oxford University Press has also published an abridged, paperback edition of Modern American Usage as the Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style (2000).
In the April 2001 issue of Harper's, the novelist David Foster Wallace said, "The fact of the matter is that Garner's dictionary is extremely good ... Its format ... includes entries on individual words and phrases and expostulative small-cap MINI-ESSAYS." (An unabridged, much lengthier version of the Wallace essay appeared in a 2006 anthology of Wallace's essays entitled Consider the Lobster.) Garrison Keillor has called Garner's Modern American Usage one of the five most influential books in his library. Other critics, from John Simon to William Safire to Bill Walsh to Barbara Wallraff, have extolled the book's approach to giving guidance in a nuanced, non-hamhanded way.
Michael Quinion of WorldWideWords.org noted in his review that usage guides “row a course against the current of modern lexicography and linguistics,” which are descriptive fields that often fail to "meet the day-to-day needs of those users of English who want to speak and write in a way that is acceptable to educated opinion.” Quinion opined that Garner lays down rules without falling victim to “worn-out shibboleths or language superstitions.”
Other reviewers have been slightly more reserved in their praise. Geoffrey Pullum of Language Log, the distinctly descriptive-leaning editor of the The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, writes that Garner's approach is “very reasonably balanced between prescriptive and descriptive approaches.” Pullum, however, is critical of the book's failure to reflect “the progress that has been made toward correcting mistakes" in the analysis of English syntax made by 18th and 19th century linguists.
- Modern American Usage by Wilson Follett
- A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, by Henry Watson Fowler
- The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White
- The Chicago Manual of Style, the authoritative guide to American English publishing style and markup
- The Complete Plain Words by Sir Ernest Gowers