Oxford Pocket Fowler’s Modern English Usage

edited by Robert Allen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. 2008): 640 pp, £5.99 (pbk), ISBN 978 0 19 923258 1.

Reviewed by Michèle Clarke

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I hadn't realized that there was a pocket edition of Fowler's. This paperback is the second edition (its big brother, reviewed in the January/February 2002 issue of CopyRight, is in its third edition) and is edited by Robert Allen (R W Burchfield did the big brother edition).

The preface tells us that the pocket edition is 40% smaller than the main one: 4,000 entries compared to 8,000, with 150 additional words. Updating was a priority from the point of view of new words and also in usage areas. Apparently, may is encroaching more on might (now they tell me, as I have just finished correcting a whole text in which may was used throughout), and American English is making inroads fast. Because the last main edition of the big book was published in 1996 (with addenda in 1998), this might, or even may or could, be the book to purchase now until a newer edition of MEU comes into being.

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