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The Concise Usage and Abusage.

by Eric Partridge
Review by: Thomas Pyles
Modern Language Notes, Vol. 70, No. 8 (Dec., 1955), pp. 608-609
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3040460 .
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Eric Partridge,The Concise Usage and Abusage (New York: Philo-
sophical Library, 1954. ix + 219 pp. $3.50). THE Concise
Usage and A busageis an abridgment of Eric Partridge'searlierUsage
and Abusage. It is writtenin much the same vein as Fowler's
ModernEnglish Usage and will servemuchthe same purposes. Mr.
Partridge'sguiding principlesare in fact those of a long line of
predecessors:wheneveranomaly,or evenwhatappearsto be anomaly,
raises its ugly head, logic and analogyare the weaponsemployedfor
its extermination.The subjectivity and authoritarianism of manyof
his dicta likewisefollowan ancientand honorabletradition.
A fewdetailedcommentsfollow:
P. 7 An item such as " alarum is archaic for alarm " is hardly necessary
in a work of this kind.
P. 15 The and which construction condemned by Partridge has been used
by reputable writers for a very long time.
P. 63 It is doubtful that anyone's else and the like are as " acceptable " in
American use as Partridge believes, despite the schoolteachers' silly
campaign to inculcate the construction a number of years ago.
P. 85 After the entry hallelujah we are instructed to "See alleluia."
Where? Presumably in the process of abridgment the cross reference
was deleted. Likewise for seamstress (" See sempstress," which is not
entered) and ligature (" See diphthongs,"which is not entered, though
there is an entry for dipthong stating merely that it is incorrect for
" diphthong").
P. 102 Professor Cabell Greet (Cavell Greet on the front flap of the dust
jacket!), who has all too infrequentlyannotated the book for American
users, might have pointed out that American scholarly usage makes a
distinction between linguistics and philology somewhat at variance with
that cited by Partridge.
P. 124 Jespersen, Chesterton, and Ludwig Wittgenstein are all chided for
their " misplacement" of only. It is recommendedthat Mr. Partridge
read what Sir Ernest Gowers has written on the subject of only-
snooping (in his Plain Words: Their ABC).
P. 195 It is doubtful that their can be said to be "misused" for his in the
sentence "Anyone thinks twice when their life is at stake." The use
of they, their, and them as singular relative pronouns of indeterminate
gender has long been perfectlywell established, even in formal contexts.

Tremendousindustrywent into the making of this book-an


industrycharacteristicof Eric Partridgeas it is of few otherliving
men. One mustregretthat the usefulnessof The ConciseUsage and
Abusage,like that of its more voluminouspredecessor, is to a large
extentlimitedto those who have little to say but want to say that
littleverywell. Manywhohave admiredPartridge'scontributions to

008 ModernLanguage Notes

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the lexicographyof non-standardspeech will have little regard for
such counsels of perfectionas are to be found in the work under
review.
If one has the sanctionof The Concise Usage and Abusage,one is
indeed on the side of the angels; but the sad fact remainsthat the
makersof English literaturehave been verycarelessabout following
such prescriptions as are laid down in Partridge'shandbook. That
Partridgeis aware of this defectionis implicitin his manycitations,
more in sadness than in anger,of "errors" committedby eminent
writers.

University of Florida THOMAS PYLES

AlphonseV. Roche, ProvenCalRegionalism: A Study of the Move-


mentin the " Revue felibreenne,"" Le Feu" and Other Reviewsof
SouthernFrance (Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1954. xix+
271 pp. NorthwesternUniv. Studies, Humanities Series, 30).
ROCHE'S book describesand analyses Provengal regionalismbe-
tween 1885 and World War II. His sourcesare mainlythe Revue
felibreenne,Le Feu, and other regional periodicals. After an in-
troductorychapter on the reviews and the personalitiesof their
editors,he gives in Chapter II an expose of the " general prin-
ciples and concreteaims" of the regionalists.This is no easy task
since the policies of regionalistleaders are changingand sometimes
vague. One is under the impressionthat regionalism,althoughit
was supportedby various theoriesand producedvariousprogrammes
d'actionr,is animated mainly by strong feelings and ranges
from a patrioticlove for the native tongue and la petite patrie
to petty nationalist revendicationsand the creation of " race"
myths. The most innocentclaims were those of a literaryrenais-
sance, but politics came in, opposing regional federalismto the
traditional French centralism,with ensuing programmesfor re-
formingschools and provincialuniversities. One naturallylooked
for allies in the vigourousCatalan autonomist movementand took
also an interestin the variousBasque, Breton,Flemish and Alsatian
" causes."~
ChapterIII gives an account of the contrastbetweenNorth and
South, partlybased on history,climate and geography;partly on
legends and prejudices. Through partisan eyes the northerners

VOL. LXX, December 1955 609

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