For Who the Bell Tolls – David Marsh

David Marsh is an editor of some variety on the Guardian, edits the paper’s Mind Your Language blog, and is generally responsible for the @GuardianStyle Twitter feed, both of which are good fun for anyone who enjoys the use and abuse of language.

He’s now published a book (parts of which have previously appeared on the blog) about English grammar and style. It’s written in a light, humorous style and is a lot of fun, particularly when he quotes some of the more extreme examples of linguistic abuse. He also has the good taste to quote Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, which earns him several million bonus points.

He’s nicely opinionated and has little patience with some of the more pompous forms of communication:

You don’t need to know that ‘this is he’ is an example of the predicate nominative to be all to aware that someone who uses it to answer the phone is going to sound like a twerp.

And in a chapter on easily (or not so easily) confused words, he offers this useful definition:

fayre A fete worse than death

David has fun with political language and the bizarre form of communication used by train companies. Though he seems to have missed the odd one where the thing you’re sitting in[1] isn’t a train. Oh no, it’s a service.  And those places where you get on or off the, err, service aren’t stations, they’re station stops.

Anyway, this is good stuff, and well worth reading. Have a look at the blog and the Twitter feed to get a feel for his style if you’re not sure.

[1] Assuming you can get a seat, that is…