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Unfortunate English

The Gloomy Truth Behind the Words You Use


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Unfortunate English

The Gloomy Truth Behind the Words You Use
by Bill Brohaugh
Writer's Digest Books, 2006
ISBN 978-1-58297-443-9
$18.99 hardcover, 224 pages

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About the Book
What sensitivities are you secretly offending when you use the words poppycock, bonfire, and porcelain? What political incorrectness are you courting when you describe someone or something as ethnic? Who have you insulted, what sensitivity have you jostled, what breach of propriety have you committed when you use such remarkably innocent words as butterfly, gymnasium, and fizzle?

Unfortunate English uncovers older meanings of words that are out of joint with almost everyone’s sense of propriety—word histories that reveal the deintensification of the disgusting, the generalization of the ribald, the mutation of the offensive, and occasionally the sensationalizing of the innocent.

So open the book and start having fun … or maybe you shouldn't, considering that fun originally meant … well, something different.


About the Author

Bill Brohaugh is the author of Write Tight, about concision in writing (ISI Books), and The Grill of Victory, a profile of the competition barbecue circuit (Emmis Books). For Writer’s Digest Books, he is the author or editor of Professional Etiquette for Writers, English Through the Ages and Just Open a Vein. He has written several hundred published or produced magazine articles and short radio pieces. He can spell “eclectic.”

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