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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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Even more complete plain words

Even more complete plain words

Chapter:
(p.69) 5 Even more complete plain words
Source:
English Usage Guides
Author(s):

Rebecca Gowers

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198808206.003.0005

Ernest Gowers wrote the first, pamphlet version of Plain Words in 1948. It had been commissioned by the Treasury, and was designed to encourage clarity and kindness in the writing of over-formal, patronizing civil servants. Despite this focus, it became an immediate bestseller when offered as a book for general sale. In 1954, Gowers combined subsequent iterations of the title to produce a final version, The Complete Plain Words; and though he came to wish he could revise this work too, he got entangled instead in creating his 1965 edition of Fowler, after which he promptly died. The Complete Plain Words, revised by others in 1973 and 1986, has never yet gone out of print. But the later revisions look increasingly unsympathetic, so in 2014 Rebecca Gowers, the author’s great-granddaughter, agreed to update the book working directly from the 1954 edition. This proved to be easier said than done.

Keywords:   Plain Words, Ernest Gowers, Fowler, usage guide, civil service

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