Review: Rebel Without a Clause by Sue Butler

Title: Rebel Without A Clause: Losing the linguistic plot…

Author: Sue Butler

Published: 29th September 2020, Macmillan

Status: Read October 2020 courtesy PanMacmillan Australia

++++++

My Thoughts:

It’s surprising how often conversations about language crop up around our dinner table. The kids love to tease me about the way I say ‘tacos’, my son enjoys irritating his siblings with his eccentric vocabulary, and their father’s has a penchant for using old ‘bush’ phrases which often require translation. As it happens, just last week my youngest daughter started a debate when she took one of her siblings to task for saying pronounciation instead of pronunciation, which should please Sue Butler.

Susan Butler, the former Editor of the Macquarie Dictionary, has some very particular ideas about language and how it ought and ought not be used. Rebel Without a Clause is a collection of her observations on, among other things, ‘the vagaries of English pronunciation, complicated by differences in varieties of English and personal idiosyncrasies and social taboos’.

‘To Care or Not To Care’ is the title of her first chapter in which she provides a brief explanation of how and why language changes, the need to balance preservation with the right of expression, and the importance of clarity and meaning.

In further pithy chapters, Susan goes on to discuss cliches, inventions, awkward spellings, mixed metaphors, and misconceptions. Her erudite commentary tempered by her wit, she explores questions like; Is Sheila now a derogatory term? What’s the difference between flaunt and flout? Should Covidiot have a place in the dictionary? Do you order brus-ketta or bru-shetta?

There’s a little overlap between Rebel Without a Clause and Butler’s The Aitch Factor (2014), but not a troubling amount. I’m heartened to see Sue still believes we can do without the apostrophe, and yet I’m in complete agreement with her dislike of stream-of-consciousness writing.

Rebel Without a Clause is a delightful exploration of the ever evolving wonder of words, and would make an ideal gift for language lovers, or pedantics, grammar Nazi’s or wordsmiths.

++++++

Available from Pan Macmillan Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf
    Oct 07, 2020 @ 11:49:20

    This sounds like something I’d enjoy. Thanks for sharing it!

    Like

    Reply

  2. Jennifer
    Oct 07, 2020 @ 12:15:00

    Great review: a book I know I’ll enjoy!

    Like

    Reply

  3. Ashleigh
    Oct 07, 2020 @ 16:48:04

    This looks like one I need to get!! It will be very fun I think.

    Like

    Reply

  4. Ashleigh
    Oct 07, 2020 @ 16:48:04

    This looks like one I need to get!! It will be very fun I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Nadene (TtllyAdd2Reading)
    Oct 08, 2020 @ 23:02:30

    I think I need a copy of this book. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    Reply

  6. Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer
    Oct 11, 2020 @ 07:51:45

    This sounds delightful.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Katie @ Doing Dewey
    Oct 11, 2020 @ 13:20:04

    I love that your family talks about language regularly! Sounds like it would make for a fun dinner table.

    I was interested to see you mention that the author was already talking about the word Covidiot. That’s impressively timely!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  9. Carole from Carole's Chatter
    Oct 13, 2020 @ 12:28:15

    Sounds like one for me thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. Mystica
    Oct 14, 2020 @ 16:22:00

    The English spoken today in SriLanka is certainly quite different with lots of sayings that don’t make any sense to the younger generation!!! Language constantly evolves.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  11. Tracey (Carpe Librum)
    Nov 06, 2020 @ 22:29:15

    I enjoyed this one too.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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