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Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198808206

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198808206.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 19 May 2022

The King’s English by Kingsley Amis

The King’s English by Kingsley Amis

A publisher’s project

(p.51) 4 The King’s English by Kingsley Amis
English Usage Guides

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade

Oxford University Press

The famous English novelist Kingsley Amis also wrote a usage guide, called The King’s English, published posthumously in 1997. This title refers to his illustrious predecessor Henry Fowler, who is frequently quoted in the book and even has an entry of his own—unusual for the genre. In this chapter I will argue that Amis’s The King’s English is not a typical usage guide. Though it does offer language advice, most of the entries read like brief linguistic—often humorous—narratives rather than typical usage items. His section on Americanisms, is an example of this; and he also published instances of usage advice elsewhere, as on the once controversial hopefully. This chapter therefore argues that the book was actually a publisher’s project, aiming to profit both from Amis’s reputation when he was still remembered well by the public and from the growing market for usage advice literature at the time.

Keywords:   Kingsley Amis, usage guides, Fowler, usage advice, usage problems, prescription, prescriptivism

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