Spring 1998

 

The Emily Post of Language

Do you know whether free tickets should be correctly called "complimentary" or "complementary"? Unfortunately, many people --including advertisers and even some librarians -- do not. According to the authoritative New Fowler's Modern English Language Usage, users often confuse similar words such as "complimentary" (a compliment) and "complementary" (completing). Beside(s) differentiating between word meanings, New Fowler's determines the appropriate pronunciation for selective words as well as showing the right way to spell others, including variants in British and American English.

There are also some interesting histories of words, plus a grab bag of other intriguing information. One example is the background of the word "bunk," a shortened form of "Buncombe," a county name in rural North Carolina. Evidently their Congressman, during a famous 1820 filibuster, prefaced his notoriously long-winded comments with "I need to make a speech for Buncombe . . ."

First published in 1926, Fowler's has become a classic reference source for students and writers. Now, seventy years later, the New Fowler's (Ref PE 1628 F65 1996) is only in its third edition. This book continues the tradition of upholding standards and quality in language.