The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate

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9780062701909: The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate

Between TV talk shows, radio call-in programs, email and the Internet, spontaneous-talk media has skyrocketed in the '90s. People are interacting more frequently and more fervently than ever before, turning the English language into an indecipherable mess. Now, this unique and concise compendium presents the most confused and misused words in the language today -- words misused by careless speakers and writers everywhere. It defines, discerns and distinguishes the finer points of sense and meaning. Was it fortuitous or only fortunate? Are you trying to remember, or more fully recollect? Is he uninterested or disinterested? Is it healthful or healthy, regretful or regrettable, notorious or infamous? The answers to these and many more fascinating etymological questions can be found within the pages of this invaluable (or is it valuable?) reference.

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Review:

In The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate, Eugene Ehrlich pulls no punches about his intent. This book and its companion, The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate, are prescriptive rather than descriptive, dedicated to recording language as it should be rather than how it often is. In the preface, Ehrlich announces that he means his book to be an "antidote" to the "effects wrought by the forces of linguistic darkness"--meaning, of course, all lexicographers more permissive than he is. That said, Ehrlich's conservative approach handily disposes of many thorny usage problems. The entry for "effectual," for example, distinguishes between "effective" and "effectual" in a concise and utterly persuasive way: "...a law that is effective--operative, in effect--becomes effectual--answers its purpose--only when the law is enforced."

This is not your ordinary dictionary; Ehrlich thinks that defining everyday words with commonly accepted meanings is a massive waste of time. Instead, he concentrates on unusual words or those that present interesting problems. The result is a fascinating dictionary that can be read cover to cover, like a book; do so and your vocabulary may never be the same again.

From the Back Cover:

Readers, writers, wordsmiths, verbivores, and logophiles will delight in the clutter-free pages of The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate from renowned lexicographer and author Eugene Ehrlich. Forgoing everyday English words and their definitions, The Highly Selective Dictionary presents only the most interesting words and their concise definitions, and includes short discussions for words most often confused and misused by today's speakers and writers. More than 3,500 of the most affecting, engaging, and engrossing words, from abecedarian to zucchetto - complete with pronunciation guides - make this a book you can dip in and out of, with serendipitous results every time.

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