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15 October 1981
Language and Linguistics: An Introduction 
by John Lyons.
Cambridge, 356 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 521 23034 9
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... Language is one of those subjects on which it is almost impossible nowadays to say anything worth saying which is not highly controversial. That is why it takes a brave man like Professor Lyons to attempt a book which, in less than four hundred pages, aims to provide a ‘general introduction to linguistics and the study of language, intended particularly for beginning students and readers with no ...
6 November 1980
Studies in English Linguistics for Randolph Quirk 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum and Jan Svartvik.
Longman, 304 pp., £18, September 1980, 0 582 55079 3
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... England has never had an official body equivalent to the Académic Française or the Italian Accademia della Crusca. And that is no accident. For the Englishman has scant respect for experts, of whatever kind. Telling Englishmen what they ought to do for their own good has been a hazardous enterprise throughout history. But a permanent committee to tell them how they ought to use their own native language ...
2 February 1984
Course in General Linguistics 
by Ferdinand de Saussure, translated by Roy Harris.
Duckworth, 236 pp., £24, March 1983, 0 7156 1738 9
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Semiotic Perspectives 
by Sandor Hervey.
Allen and Unwin, 273 pp., £15, September 1982, 9780044000266
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... Saussure was first professor of Sanskrit and Indo-European Languages, then professor of German Language and Literature, and finally, after 1907, professor of General Linguistics. His translator, RoyHarris, is also a professor of General Linguistics, at Oxford, having earlier been professor of Romance Languages there. He is Oxford’s first professor of General Linguistics, not because he has ...
1 December 1983
A Dictionary of Mottoes 
by L.G. Pine.
Routledge, 303 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780710093394
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Newspeak: A Dictionary of Jargon 
by Jonathon Green.
Routledge, 263 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9685 2
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The Oxford Miniguide to English Usage 
by E.S.C. Weiner.
Oxford, 412 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 19 869127 0
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The Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English: Volume II 
by A.P. Cowrie, R. Mackin and I.R. McCaig.
Oxford, 685 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 19 431150 3
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A Dictionary of the Teenage Revolution and its Aftermath 
by Kenneth Hudson.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 333 28517 4
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A Dictionary of Catch-Phrases 
by Eric Partridge.
Routledge, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9989 4
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... Lexicographical apparatus, as Walter Ong recently reminded us in Orality and Literacy, was ‘a very late accretion to language as language’. It was also quite a profitable accretion for at least two classes of language-user: printers and publishers. It still is, to judge by the way dictionaries continue to proliferate. One gets the impression that the dictionary industry has rarely been in finer ...
20 September 1984
Language, Sense and Nonsense 
by G.P. Baker and P.M.S. Hacker.
Blackwell, 397 pp., £22.50, April 1984, 0 631 13519 7
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... The picture on the dust-jacket of Language, Sense and Nonsense is a 17th-century allegory by Laurent de la Hire. It shows Grammar as a lady seriously engaged in watering some rather spindly potted plants. In her left hand she holds what looks like a very long tape-measure, bearing the words vox litterata et articulata debito modo pronuntiata. Presumably this tape-measure is for checking inch by inch ...
19 August 1982
From Locke to Saussure: Essays on the Study of Language and Intellectual History 
by Hans Aarsleff.
Athlone, 422 pp., £18, May 1982, 9780485300017
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... The modest title of Hans Aarsleff’s book From Locke to Saussure conceals, among other things, the fact that it goes a long way beyond Saussure. Its implications reach right down to linguistic controversies which continue unabated at the present day. The 14 essays presented in this volume undoubtedly include what must, by any standards, rank among the most stimulating writing on language and European ...

Language Questions

Barbara Strang

17 July 1980
The Language-Makers 
by Roy Harris.
Duckworth, 194 pp., £15, April 1980, 0 7156 1430 4
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Beyond the Letter: A Philosophical Inquiry Into Ambiguity, Vagueness and Metaphor in Language 
by Israel Scheffler.
Routledge, 146 pp., £8.50, November 1979, 0 7100 0315 3
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Linguistic Perspectives on Literature 
edited by Marvin Ching, Michael Haley and Ronald Lunsford.
Routledge, 332 pp., £9.50, March 1980, 9780710003829
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... Professor RoyHarris’s The Language Makers is the natural starting-point. His book comes oddly naked into the world: we have no statement about the aims or intended audience, no listing or titling (let alone running ...

Mizzled

Roy Harris

21 February 1985
Longman Dictionary of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk.
Longman, 1875 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 582 55511 6
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The Private Lives of English Words 
by Louis Heller, Alexander Humez and Malcah Dror.
Routledge, 333 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 7102 0006 4
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The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words 
by Bill Bryson.
Viking, 173 pp., £7.95, April 1984, 0 7139 1653 2
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The Origins of English Words: A Discursive Dictionary of Indo-European Roots 
by Joseph Shipley.
Johns Hopkins, 637 pp., $39.95, May 1984, 0 8018 3004 4
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A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English 
by Eric Partidge and Paul Beale.
Routledge, 1400 pp., £45, May 1984, 0 7100 9820 0
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... On 10 May 1933 an undergraduate at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, wrote in her diary a description of the clothes she was wearing on that sultry summer’s day. The description includes the phrase blue celanese trollies. The diary entry in question was not published until 1984, by which time the diarist, Barbara Pym, had become a cult figure in English literary circles. By that time, too, the words ...
19 August 1982
The Language Myth 
by Roy Harris.
Duckworth, 212 pp., £18, August 1981, 0 7156 1528 9
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... speech thus being a means of conveying ideas from one mind to another; and that a language consists of a fixed coding of ideas into sounds or written signs. These are somewhat inelegantly labelled by Harris the ‘telementational’ and the ‘determinacy’ fallacies respectively. His characterisation of the determinacy fallacy rapidly introduces a second strand: the combination of words into sentences ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer

25 January 1990
The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... a devastatingly harmful effect on literary criticism and on personal (especially authorial) liberty. The last section, ‘Rectitudes’, takes us into the area of explicit public debate on language. RoyHarris investigates swear-words and their place in those ‘litmus-paper areas of British culture’, poetry and cricket, in a discussion of the controversy which surrounded the reporting of two ...

Babylon

William Rodgers

30 March 1989
European Diary 1977-1981 
by Roy​ Jenkins.
Collins, 698 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 00 217976 8
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... Thirteen years ago, in the late afternoon of an April day, I was summoned across Whitehall from my office in the Ministry of Defence to see the Home Secretary. Roy Jenkins rose from his chair and said: ‘Well, it’s all over, Callaghan is appointing Crosland.’ He nodded to a handwritten envelope addressed to the President of the French Republic. I knew that ...

Alternative Tories

José Harris

23 April 1987
Baldwin 
by Roy​ Jenkins.
Collins, 204 pp., £12.95, March 1987, 9780002175869
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Rab: The Life of R.A. Butler 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 422 pp., £15, March 1987, 0 224 01862 0
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The Political Culture of Modern Britain: Studies in Memory of Stephen Koss 
edited by J.M.W. Bean.
Hamish Hamilton, 306 pp., £15, January 1987, 0 241 12026 8
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... he was tarred with appeasement and unemployment, but because he represented a style and philosophy of government that was largely incomprehensible to the world of geopolitics and the welfare state. Roy Jenkins himself belongs pre-eminently to the school of state intervention, but it is one of the virtues of his new study of Baldwin that he manages to recapture and make sense of some if not all of ...

Upper Ireland

Nicholas Canny

16 March 1989
Modern Ireland 1600-1972 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 688 pp., £18.95, October 1988, 0 7139 9010 4
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... who realise this ambition can be certain of at least an earthly reward, since the demand for general histories of Ireland seems insatiable and sales can match those of a moderately successful novel. Roy Foster’s Modern Ireland has exceeded such expectations. It has recorded sales in excess of 12,000 hardback copies on the Irish market alone since its publication in October 1988. Such an ...

Who whom?

Christopher Ricks

6 June 1985
The English Language Today 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum.
Pergamon, 345 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 08 031078 8
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The English Language 
by Robert Burchfield.
Oxford, 194 pp., £9.50, January 1985, 9780192191731
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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik.
Longman, 1779 pp., £39.50, May 1985, 0 582 51734 6
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Words 
by John Silverlight.
Macmillan, 107 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 9780333380109
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Faux Amis and Key Words: A Dictionary-Guide to French Language, Culture and Society through Lookalikes and Confusables 
by Philip Thody, Howard Evans and Gwilym Rees.
Athlone, 224 pp., £16, February 1985, 0 485 11243 4
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Puns 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 631 13793 9
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Fair of Speech: The Uses of Euphemism 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 222 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 19 212236 3
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... grows out of the symbol of an asterisk, the star-chamber symbol for ‘unacceptable’.Not but what there is a regular attempt to palliate the charge. It is a pity even to seem to be agreeing with RoyHarris, who not only does not believe that ... but doesn’t believe in most things (dictionaries, for example), but I judge him right to have insisted (LRB, 21 February 1985) that the Quirk-based ...

Ahead of the Game

Daniel Finn: The Official IRA

7 October 2010
The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party 
by Brian Hanley and Scott Millar.
Penguin, 658 pp., £9.99, April 2010, 978 0 14 102845 3
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... ás Mac Giolla insisted that once northern Protestants began thinking for themselves, ‘no one will be more receptive than them to republican principles.’ With the help of a new intellectual guru, Roy Johnston (the son of an Ulster Presbyterian who had supported Home Rule before the First World War), the Goulding-led IRA based its strategy for Northern Ireland on civil rights and equality for ...

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