Review – The Language Wars

Cover of The Language Wars by Henry HitchingsThe Language Wars, Henry Hitchings

In theory, this is a subject I’m really fascinated by. The whole idea of ‘proper English’, all the classism and imperialism and prejudice caught up in it, and the way people’s attitudes to language have developed. However, turns out that either the minutiae of who wrote which grammar/dictionary/book about etiquette and when isn’t that interesting, or Henry Hitchings has a really boring prose style. Or, well, both of those things. I felt like there were a lot of facts, but not much analysis to go with it; some chapters felt like they were just lists of who wrote what about grammar and when.

I was hoping for other stuff about proper English, more about the imperialism — there’s lots of scope for that without even leaving the United Kingdom, with the suppression of the Welsh and Irish languages, and there’s hints about the struggle between US and UK English. Overall, though… if that was addressed, the deadened prose style made me miss it.

It’s still an interesting topic, but this particular book had a soporific effect on me.

Rating: 2/5


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