I have requested MODERN AMERICAN USAGE from the public|zealous ("zeal" + "-ous", rhymes with "jealous"
Make sure it is the original edition, because even the
descriptivists agree that later editors betrayed the
dead Fowler and ruined his dictionary.
But you can have some Fowler for free on Bartleby:
which, to me, has the advantage of being a coherent book
instead of a set of disjoined articles in alphabetical
Some topics merely touched in MEU are expouned in great
deatail in "King's English". The chapter on "will" and
"shall" is a masterpiece (which I understood upon a fouth
The usage of "shall" and "will" and "should" and "would" by
Agatha Christie and Anthony Hope is now much clearer to me.
What I had in mind there was not FOWLER'S, but the work
of an author from the US. Because I don't speak US
English I saw little need for it until I became curious
about why Americans do what they do with, e.g., "of" and
thought I'd best consult a USAian expert.... :-)
Recently Dallas & I watched a series about Queen
Victoria in which the actress said (when HM was 8 1/2
months pregnant & was not allowed, by the standards of
the day, to do as she wished) said "I'm bored of this".
At a similar stage I was reminded of people who had
built a ship in the basement & wondered how they'd ever
get it out... and when I asked Dallas to help with the
vacuuming I got a new vacuum cleaner almost immediately.
But when I exclaimed, "What... Queen Victoria wouldn't
have said that!?" the 1998 edition of FOWLER'S confirmed
my suspicion that "bored of" emerged well over a century
Perhaps I should refresh my memory in that regard.
Although some of us probably learned about it at school,
North Americans in general don't make a distinction
between "will" and "shall". I think much of the power &
sublety of the language is lost when folks try too hard
to simplify or naturalize it. :-)
While I know very little about Anthony Hope, I think I
know what you mean WRT Agatha Christie. She could speak
volumes about a man by saying he was wearing spats &
riding in a first-class railway compartment... in much
the same way as the photograph I saw of her wearing
pearls while eating breakfast on the patio of her
country estate spoke volumes. When you understand the
fine points of grammar &/or the upper-middle class
customs of the day you'll understand far more than the
kids whose chief ambition is to fit in with their age
Then you might enjoy "The Witch" (or "The VVitch") -- a
splendidly depressing horror movie where the actors are
speaking the true English of the witch-hunting period in
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