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troublesome

Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words

Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words (ISBN 0-7679-1043-5) is a book by Bill Bryson, first released 1984, that catalogues some of the English language's most commonly misused words and phrases in order to demonstrate correct usage.

It was re-released in a revised edition in 1987; and again in the UK in 1997 under the title Troublesome Words (ISBN 0-14-026640-2). The original UK edition of the work in 1984 was entitled The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words (ISBN 014051130X). It was also published in the US 1984, as The Facts on File Dictionary of Troublesome Words (ISBN 0871968894).

As the author himself states, "This book might more accurately, if less convincingly, have been called A Guide to Everything in English Usage That the Author Wasn't Entirely Clear About Until Quite Recently." Bryson has discovered that the English language is a voluble entity, with no two experts agreeing on any point of usage, and that those guides that do exist for the common user often expect the reader to be familiar with grammatical terms not encountered since (or even at) high school.

Using almost forty standard works on the subject as his guide, Bryson aims to produce a list of difficult English words that is generally readable and informative whilst also usable as a reference work.

This aim is accomplished using a large degree of humour as well as a willingness to hold the experts he quotes up to the light for their own failings, thus illustrating how easy it is to make errors of usage.

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