My newest book, five-plus years in coming, based on this blog, is now a reality. It’s available on Amazon in paperback (e-book to come).
Here are some details:
Speakers and writers of American English don’t have to know how to diagram sentences or write grammatically perfect sentences at all times, but we should aim for a solid grasp of the basics of good usage, syntax, and punctuation—what teachers and copyeditors call the “mechanics” of English, or simply “Standard Written English.” Our goal should be to communicate in writing more clearly, concisely, coherently, and correctly.
Liberally lacing Whatever Happened to English? with practical grammar, usage, and punctuation tips and examples, often with a humorous edge, the author includes nearly one hundred essays of varying lengths—from a single paragraph to several pages. Approximately half of these essays originally appeared in The Dean’s English blog. The other half are brand new. The book is organized into these chapters:
Whatever Happened to English?
A Grammar Miscellany
Fun with Words
A Dean’s English Potpourri
English at the Holidays
Whatever Happened to English? is for writers as young as middle school and as old as Methuselah.
We native speakers of English are often guilty of taking jabs at our mother tongue—whether good-naturedly or otherwise—because of its many oddities and peculiarities. We sometimes forget that English is the international language of trade and commerce for reasons that go beyond the fact of America’s preeminence—and before that, the British Empire’s preeminence—on the world stage. English is an expressive, robust, flexible language that is relatively easy for non-native speakers to acquire and use with facility.
In my reading recently, I came across this quote on the exceptional nature of English. Although written seventy years ago, I believe it’s still relevant and worth sharing with you:
You are fortunate because your language is English. English is a great language; among the world’s languages it is perhaps the one that gives the individual the greatest freedom. It is poetic and practical at the same time; it is tremendously rich; it’s a sort of all-purpose language. One hundred years ago, the German writer Jakob Grimm wrote of English: “In wealth, good sense, and thrifty order no other of the living languages may be put beside it.” He was just one of the many foreigners who envy us our language; there is almost nothing you can’t do with it.
I’m an advocate of learning foreign languages; I’ve formally studied several of them. If you haven’t done so, please do study another language, if for no other reason than to keep your mind nimble or to deepen your appreciation of a different culture. But remember: if you read or speak English, be humbly grateful. It is a great language.
 Rudolf Flesch, The Art of Readable Writing (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1949), 206. In fairness, there are contrary opinions, such as this one by a noted linguist: “The common idea that English dominates the world because it is ‘flexible’ implies that there have been languages that failed to catch on beyond their tribe because they were mysteriously rigid. I am not aware of any such languages.” (John McWhorter, “English Is Not Normal,” November 13, 2015, https://aeon.co)
Often humorous, usually educational, this website promotes standard written and spoken American English.
My overarchinggoal on this website is to celebrate and affirm standard written and spoken English and consequently promote clearer, more effective interpersonal communication. To that end, I’ve written blogposts and included other resourcesrelated to writing, language, grammar, words, usage, punctuation, and even pronunciation.
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