There are plenty of books and websites available that will tell you what to do or not to do when writing – what’s good English, what’s not, what’s debated. Some will even tell you what to get pissed off about. But it’s all just one little detail after another, a collection of little rules.
Now, admittedly, there are a lot of little individual points of usage and idioms in language, especially in English. But there’s also a big picture. There are the overall ways all these things work. And it’s hard to find good, clear, engaging explanations with a view to the larger principles and mechanics.
What’s more, there’s not one single perfect way to use English that will be the best in every circumstance any more than there is one single way to dress that works in all weather and all social contexts. But who really tells you how to dress your language for success, so to speak?
I decided to bring in two of the greatest, most vivid minds I know to explain, in their inimitable ways, how it all works and how to know what to do for every context: the husband-and-wife team of great logophiles, Dirk E. Oldman and Annie Wei-Yu Kan.
Perhaps I should say, though, that they’re not actually husband and wife anymore. Nor, in fact, on speaking terms. But they remain brilliant as ever, as you will see.