Saturday, 17 August 2013

Fowler howler


Editing in Wikipedia, in regards to plain English, is patchy. We know what they mean because unlike French which has to be spoken perfectly to be understood English receives a universal mangling which we accept. The entry on Fowler has a howler or three; ironic when its subject was a stern examiner of all solecisms and paralogisms including the use of pedantic expressions when not strictly warranted.
Henry Watson Fowler
So limping on but by the way shooting yourself in the foot was a deliberate act to get you out of the battle.

We are told that at Rugby He concentrated in Latin and Greek. The writer seems to have been caught between ‘concentrated on’ and ‘specialised in’ and the wrong preposition was the result.

There was an E. P. Lemarchand, whose sister eventually married Arthur Fowler. Did his persistence pay off or was it merely that she later married Arthur. ‘Eventually’ gives the impression of a long siege before the surrender of her hand in marriage.

In partnership with his brother Francis and beginning in 1906, he began publishing seminal grammar, style and lexicography books. Certainly those books were published but not by him; he wrote them together with his brother.

Although he participated little in Oxford sport,: Is that on Eurosport or is he talking about 'sport at Oxford’?

There was a brother Samuel: Samuel, the troublesome youngest brother, was sent to Sedbergh, probably to be taken care of by Henry and Arthur, but he only stayed a year before leaving the school, and of him nothing further is known. Presumably he became a ‘remittance’ man and spent his latter days writing to the Australian Times (?) about split infinitives.

2 comments:

elisa freschi said...

yes, you are completely right. I myself write an awful English (both in my Wikipedia additions and probably also in my scholarly work, not to speak about blogposts and comments) and keep on doing it nonetheless. Why? Because English has managed to become an "overlanguage", a sort of lingua franca and in order for this to be possible, one needs to oversimplify it. It is painful, I imagine, for Native Speakers, but they also have many advantages out of that…

ombhurbhuva said...

You are fine but I do suppose that when the language of scholarship in your speciality is English certain advantages must accrue to native speakers. Perhaps that's not the case when one considers that specialites have their own jargon or a sort of quasi language. When the universal language was Latin then everybody was on the same footing as to facility.