Monday 22 May 2023

Is There a Cow in Moscow?

Finished May 21
Is There a Cow in Moscow? More Beastly Mispronunciations and Sound Advice: Another Opinionated Guide to the Well-Spoken by Charles Harrington Elster

This book is arranged alphabetically, and looks at words both common (a and the) and uncommon (quoin and ukase) as well as many in between. It includes some place names and proper names, such as those of the muses, and talks about changes to usage over time.
The book is written by an American and mainly discusses American pronunciation, occasionally mentioning how British or Canadian differs. Because the book was written more than thirty years ago, more changes to how language is used have occurred and some of his preferred pronunciations are no longer the common form. I also found that sometimes my pronunciation of a word (as a Canadian) differed slightly from his preferred version, even if he hadn't noted a difference for different English speakers. 
It introduced me to some words that I hadn't known before, and made me think harder about how we say things in different circumstances (i.e. noun versus verb) and contexts (i.e. when followed by a word beginning with a consonant or a vowel)
An interesting book to read in short sections or use as a helpful reference when encountering a new word. I enjoyed the historical changes he discussed for some words and also when he talked about word origins. 

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