Thursday, July 9, 2009

A new Garner

Thank you, @mbrockenbrough, for word that the new edition of Garner’s Modern American Usage is forthcoming.

The third edition, due out this month from Oxford University Press, includes a language change index, which, the publisher says, “registers where each disputed usage in modern English falls on a five-stage continuum from nonacceptability (to the language community as a whole) to acceptability, giving the book a consistent standard throughout.”

Mr. Garner is of the tribe of reasonable prescriptivists. His advice is clear and sensible, though you are, of course, not bound by it. You should, however, pay attention to what he says before you disagree.

This is one of the reference books than any editor serious about the craft should have near at hand.

A disclosure: I was one of people from whom Mr. Garner solicited comments on portions of the new edition.


  1. The original edition is one of my most thumbed usage books, so I'm happily looking forward to the updated one. Its five-stage acceptability gradient sounds like an interesting innovation. Was it Garner's idea?

  2. How exciting! I'm delighted to hear it, and anticipate seeing how it has changed. I use the 2003 edition nearly every day, but I frequently encounter a bafflement that it does not cover. Thanks for the news.