Word to the Wise - a review

Mark Broatch's Word to the Wise gives substance and authenticity to this text's subtitle: Untangling the mix-ups, misuse and myths of language.

When should you use:

  • "that" or "which"?

  • "who" or "whom"?

  • "loath" or "loathe"?

  • "libel" or "slander"?

  • "mucus" or "mucous"?

Succinctly written definitions and examples are presented by Broatch to give clear understandings, pronunciations and uses of hundreds of commonly misused words.

If you were unsure, for example, about the use of "risky" as opposed to "risqué", here's what you'd find in his text:

'Risky [ris-kee] means dangerous, involving the possibility of harm, embarrassment, failure or loss (a risky venture). Risqué [ris-kay] means bawdy, on the edge of decency, especially humour or talk of a sexual nature (risqué jokes).'

As well as his extensive, alphabetically listed selection of troublesome words in the chapter entitled 'A–Z of confused and misused words', Broatch offers further help with these other short chapters:

  • How to write what you mean to say (8 pages)

  • Unusual plurals (3 pages)

  • Clichéd streets (1 page)

  • Common social media abbreviations (2 pages)

  • Often misspelled words (5 pages)

An MA Honours graduate in English Literature and Linguistics, Mark Broatch is well qualified in this area. Even more so given he's also an experienced journalist, editor and author.

If you're a writer for any reason, or an educator, this text contains compelling reasons for it to be included in your reference library. It's reassuring that distinctions between commonly misused words are in such a handy guide.

Word to the Wise was released on 1 September 2018 by Exisle Publishing (PB, 192 pages, RRP $29.99) **** This article was first published in Independent Australia and is republished with permission under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

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