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William Mathews' “ Words: their Use and Abuse," Dean Alford's “The Queen's English,” George Washington Moon's “Bad English," and "The Dean's English," Blank's 'Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech," Alexander Bain's "English Composition and Rhetoric,” Bain's “ Higher English Grammar," Bain's “Composition Grammar," Quackenbos' "Composition and Rhetoric," John Nichol's
English Composition,” William Cobbett's “ English Grammar,” Peter Bullions' “ English Grammar," Goold Brown's “Grammar of English Grammars," Graham's “English Synonymes,” Crabb's “English Synonymes," Bigelow's “ Hand-book of Punctuation,” and other kindred works.
Suggestions and criticisms are solicited, with the view of profiting by them in future editions.
If “The Verbalist " receive as kindly a welcome as its companion volume, “The Orthoëpist,” has received, I shall be content.
Α. Α. New York, October, 1881.
Eschew fine words as you would rouge.-HARE.
Cant is properly a double-distilled lie; the second power of a lie. —CARLYLE.
If a gentleman be to study any language, it ought to be that of his own country.-LOCKE.
In language the unknown is generally taken for the magnificent.-RICHARD GRANT WHITE.
He who has a superlative for everything, wants a measure for the great or small.–LAVATER.
Inaccurate writing is generally the expression of inaccurate thinking.-RICHARD GRANT WHITE.
To acquire a few tongues is the labor of a few years ; but to be eloquent in one is the labor of a life.—ANONYMOUS.
Words and thoughts are so inseparably connected that an artist in words is necessarily an artist in thoughts.WILSON FLAGG.
It is an invariable maxim that words which add nothing to the sense or to the clearness must diminish the force of the expression.-CAMPBELL.
Propriety of thought and propriety of diction are commonly found together. Obscurity of expression generally springs from confusion of ideas.--MACAULAY.
He who writes badly thinks badly. Confusedness in words can proceed from nothing but confusedness in the thoughts which give rise to them.-COBBETT.
A-An. The second form of the indefinite article is used for the sake of euphony only. Herein everybody agrees, but what everybody does not agree in is, that it is euphonious to use an before a word beginning with an aspirated h, when the accented syllable of the word is the second. For myself, so long as I continue to aspirate the his in such words as heroic, harangue, and historical, I shall continue to use a before them; and when I adopt the Cockney mode of pronouncing such words, then I shall use an before them. To my ear it is just as euphonious to say, “I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent,” as it is to say an harangue, an heroic, or an historical. An is well enough before the doubtful British aspiration, but before the distinct American aspiration it is wholly out of place. The reply will perhaps be, " But these h's are silent; the change of accent from the first syllable to the second neutralizes their aspiration.” However true this may be in England, it is not at all true in America; hence we Americans should use a and not an before such h's until we decide to ape the Cockney mode of pronouncing them.
Errors are not unfrequently made by omitting to repeat the article in a sentence. It should always be repeated
when a noun or an adjective referring to a distinct thing is introduced ; take, for example, the sentence, “ He has a black and white horse." If two horses are meant, it is clear that it should be, “ He has a black and a white horse." See ThE.
Ability-Capacity. The distinctions between these two words are not always observed by those who use them.
Capacity is the power of receiving and retaining knowledge with facility; ability is the power of applying knowledge to practical purposes. Both these faculties are requisite to form a great character: capacity to conceive, and ability to execute designs. Capacity is shown in quickness of apprehension. Ability supposes something done ; something by which the mental power is exercised in executing, or performing, what has been perceived by the capacity.”— Graham's “English Synonymes.”
Abortive. An outlandish use of this word may be occasionally met with, especially in the newspapers. “A lad was yesterday caught in the act of abortively appropriating a pair of shoes.” That is abortive that is untimely, that has not been borne its full time, that is immature. We often hear abortion used in the sense of failure, but never by those that study to express themselves in chaste English.
Above. There is little authority for using this word as an adjective. Instead of, “the above statement,” say, “the foregoing statement.” Above is also used very inelegantly for more than; as, “ above a mile," " above a thousand”; also, for beyond; as, “above his strength.”
Accident. See CASUALTY.
Accord. “He [the Secretary of the Treasury] was shown through the building, and the information he desired was accorded him."-Reporters' English.