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Wednesday
May252011

Crowd-sourced reference books? No thanks

Language used to evolve slowly. Now it evolves much more quickly. Apart from the fact that new technology – of which there is more and more every week – spawns new terminology, trends are spread with lightning speed across the internet via social media. There is a temptation to rely on crowd-sourced reference works when trying to find out the correct word or correct usage, because they will be bang up-to-date. Unfortunately, in my own experience these are sometimes wrong or contain discussions by people whose expertise in the matter is not obvious.

Some books I find usefulOn the other hand, relying on books by experts is problematic because they date. As I said in my article about Some of my reference books, a book I like very much, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, is out of date, in parts,  about correct forms of English even though it’s less than 30 years old.

If you’re serious about writing, and writing as well as possible, how do you resolve the conflict between wanting to use expert sources, and needing advice that is absolutely up-to-date?

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