Vocabula Books

  Elegant English, Second Edition, by Robert Hartwell Fiske

Elegant English -- Second Edition

In Stock and Available Now — The Second Edition of Elegant English

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We have sold out the original print run of Elegant English. Rather than print another several hundred copies of the First Edition, we will start shipping the Second Edition of Elegant English in November. You may order the Second Edition now.

This is a Vocabula Book. As the superfluity of uninspired, careless, grammatically incorrect, slang-ridden English makes plain, elegant English is English rarely heard, English seldom seen.

Countless occasions where elegant English might have been used — indeed, ought to have been used — by a president or politician, an author or other notable, have passed with bland, if not bumbling, speech or writing.

The point of this book is to show that the language can be spoken or written with grace and polish — qualities that much contemporary English is bereft of and could benefit from.

Elegant English is grammatically correct English, it is uncommon English, it is rhetorical English. It is all three or any one or two.

The second edition contains more than a thousand examples of elegant English, including examples of rhetorical figures from classic and contemporary literature (from Charles Dickens to Toni Morrison, from Joseph Conrad to Wallace Stegner).

Elegant English is exhilarating; it stirs our thoughts and feelings as ably as everyday English blurs them.

Here is the table of contents:

Chapter 1

1.1 Uneducated English

1.2 Everyday English

1.3 Elegant English

Chapter 2

2.1 Grammatically Correct English

2.2 Uncommon English

2.3 Rhetorical English

2.3.1 Amplification: of a Word, Clause, or Sentence (Amplificatio)

2.3.2 Comparison: of One Thing with Another (Simile)

2.3.3 Correction: of One’s Words (Metanoia, Correctio)

2.3.4 Inclusion: of the Answer to a Question (Hypophora)

2.3.5 Inclusion: of a Topic While Refusing to Discuss It (Praeteritio, Occulatio, Paralepsis, Apophasis)

2.3.6 Inclusion: of Abusive Comments (Bdelygmia, Abominatio)

2.3.7 Inclusion: of Conjunctions (Polysyndeton)

2.3.8 Inversion: of Normal Word Order (Anastrophe, Hyperbation)

2.3.9 Juxtaposition: of Two Contradictory Terms or Ideas (Oxymoron)

2.3.10 Omission: of Conjunctions (Asyndeton, Brachylogia)

2.3.11 Omission: of the End of a Sentence (Aposiopesis)

2.3.12 Omission: of Words or Phrases (Ellipsis, Zeugma)

2.3.13 Omission: of the Answer to a Question (Erotesis, Erotema, Rhetorical Question)

2.3.14 Omission: of the Answer to a Question (Aporia, Dubitatio)

2.3.15 Omission: of Words so That One Word Modifies Two or More Others That Must Be Understood Differently (Syllepsis)

2.3.16 Parallelism: of Words, Phrases, Clauses, or Sentences Similar in Structure (Isocolon)

2.3.17 Repetition: of a Word, Phrase, Clause, or Sentence (Repetitio, Diacope Anaphora, Symploce, Epanalepsis, Epistrophe)

2.3.18 Repetition: of Initial Consonants (Alliteration)

2.3.19 Repetition: of Vowel Sounds in Adjacent Words (Assonance)

2.3.20 Repetition: of a Word in a Different Form (Polyptoton)

2.3.21 Repetition: of the Final Words of a Phrase, Clause, or Sentence at the Beginning of the Next Phrase, Clause, or Sentence (Anadiplosis)

2.3.22 Repetition: of Words in the Opposite Order (Chiasmus, Epanados, Antimetabole)

2.3.23 Repetition: of an Idea in Different Words (Congeries, Commoratio, Accumulatio)

2.3.24 Substitution: of One Grammatical Form for Another (Enallage)

2.3.25 Substitution: of One Part of Speech for Another (Antimeria)

2.3.26 Substitution: of the Correct Spelling of a Word for a Misspelling of It (Metaplasmus)

2.3.27 Substitution: of the Correct Spelling of a Word for a Misspelling of It (Tmesis, Infix)

Appendix A: More Elegant Paragraphs

Appendix B: Silence, Language, and Society

Product Details — Second Edition

A Vocabula Back Pocket BookTM

Perfect bound

4" by 6.75" trim

380 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0-977436842

Binding: PUR

Price: $20

Publication date: November 2014

The Second Edition of Elegant English is also for sale on Amazon.


The Second Edition Compared to the First

First Edition: September 2014

Trim: 4" by 6.5"

Number of pages: 185

Number of examples of elegant English (est.): 400

Typeface: Bookman Old Style, 11 point

Binding: EVA

Price: $14

Second Edition: November 2014

Trim: 4" by 6.75"

Number of pages: 380

Number of examples of elegant English (est.): 1,000

Typeface: Bookman Old Style, 10.5 point

Binding: PUR

Price: $20

Note: The cost of postage to international destinations is high (typically $20 to $50). We are willing to mail Elegant English to England, Australia, China, and other countries only if you are willing to pay the postage. Inquire here.

Have you bought Elegant English? Have a comment to make?

Elegant English arrived a day or two ago. What a splendid book. I wish that you could send it to Will Strunk or E. B. White. I especially liked the quotes from Sinclair Lewis and E. B. White. I wish that Lewis could know that the word "dude" has come back into circulation. I wonder if it has changed its meaning. And I liked the part in White about backyards worth knowing about. — A. David Wunsch

... judicious and delightful. — Maurice Posada

I must have another copy of Elegant English, please! — Tom McGlinn

I have received my copy of Elegant English and I wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying the volume. Fabulous work. Truly insightful. I carry it with me and dip into it at various moments during the day. I have yet to be disappointed with anything that I have found in the work. — Steve Hill

Your book is all I wanted it to be, if not more. ... I emailed a friend of mine, told him about your book, urged him to procure a copy. ... I told him your book was a cornucopia of splendid prose. — Bruce Floyd

The three books arrived yesterday in plenty of time for Christmas. I stayed up half the night reading. — Jere Covington

Elegant English, Second Edition, was delivered yesterday. I like the size of it. I can slip it into my bag and read on my daily commute. I'm sure it will be well worn within a month! — Travis McBride

Well Spoken Is Half Sung®

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5A Holbrook Court
Rockport, Massachusetts 01966

Return to Vocabula Books

Other Books by Robert Hartwell Fiske
To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing
The Dictionary of Unendurable English
Elegant English
The Dimwit's Dictionary

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