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Anguished English: An Anthology of Accidental Assaults Upon Our Language

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  1,483 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
From bloopers and blunders to Signs of the Times to Mixed Up Metaphors...from Two-Headed Headlines to Mangling Modifiers, Anguished English is a treasury of assaults upon our common language.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1987)
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Community Reviews

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I have learned so much from this book. Most importantly, I've learned that what I thought was a regional dialect of Northeastern Pennsylvania called Heynabonics is actually a nation-wide sub-language called "Slurvian."

I think this means that I'm bi-lingual now.

This was a cute, though disturbing, read. I laughed until I cried in the beginning section, reading through students' essays and seeing their mutilation of facts, but towards the middle of the book, it just kind of lost me. Yes, there wer
Oct 01, 2016 Stela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, linguistic

As a teacher, I began to gather linguistic jewels many years ago, mainly from my students compositions and tests, but sometimes from media or overheard conversations in the street.

I intended, just like Richard Lederer, to make someday a book out of them, but I never imagined this book as a mere anthology – at the end of the day, how long can you laugh while reading page after page of jokes? How many spoons of honey can you eat before becoming sick? In other words, the real challenge is to seek
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
An okay depiction of various language mistakes. Perfect for people who like to post a lot of status updates. It made me laugh a couple of times, so it gets a pass. It didn't leave me 'roaring with laughter' the way it promised though.
I can't put my finger on it, but I didn't like the tone of the book if that makes any sense. I didn't see this as a benign humorous mocking. Occasionally it was a bit condescending.
Still, some of the mistakes are hilarious. Others were trying too hard.

An advice: do
Emma Sea
May 07, 2014 Emma Sea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You can't go home again :(

I read this when it was first released, in 19mumblemumble, and laughed until I cried. Now I find Lederer condescending and annoying. I hate the sections with grammatical errors from "citizens applying for payments from a state welfare agency" and "actual [school] excuse notes". Listen to Lederer snicker because "an astonishing number of grownups blithely go about murdering the King's English without any inkling they are committing a serious crime."

Did not like.
Jan Ackerson
Mar 31, 2008 Jan Ackerson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: wordies.
Funniest. Book. Ever. Every time I read it (or any other book by Lederer), I laugh until I weep.
Nov 18, 2008 Danielle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It really isn't this book's fault that I didn't like it. If I had read it when it was first released I'm sure I would have appreciated it more. However, I was disappointed because 1) I was expecting a humorous take on grammar abuses (a la Eats, Shoots, and Leaves) and instead it turned out to be a collection of language "bloopers" of every ilk. 2) I'm not sure how it's possible that so many of these could have been reprinted and read by me without me ever realizing their source, but I'm pretty ...more
Jess Candela
I was a teenager living at home when I read this book for the first time. My mother expressed concern at all the howling noises she'd been hearing from my room since she got home. I tried to explain to her, but was laughing too hard to speak, tears streaming down my face. I finally handed her the book, and she understood immediately.

I've pared my bookshelves down a bit over the years and moves, but this is one book that is always guaranteed a spot.
Mark Dickson
May 14, 2010 Mark Dickson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone in the education field should read Lederer's essay, "World History According to Student Bloopers." Anyone who has proofread their own kids' essays will relate.

I still laugh outloud all these years later at the "defeat of the Spanish Armadillo."
Dec 25, 2008 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I laugh just thinking about this book. The chapter on history of the world according to student bloopers alone is worth the price of the book.
Jul 19, 2008 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious, and what's more, consistently hilarious. My high school English teacher and I bonded over this book.
Jun 26, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves mangled English

More fun with discombobulated English! Like Richard Lederer's Get Thee to a Punnery, Anguished English will have you chuckling and grinning, if not rolling on the floor as you read examples of mangled English written not only by children, but by adults who you think would have learned better in school. Many of these have been on the email circuit, but having them all together makes for just plain fun! My numerically- (rather than verbally-) oriented husband had difficulty listening to some of th

Zac Sigler
Jun 19, 2013 Zac Sigler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is what I refer to as a "fettucine alfredo" book. It starts out delightfully. "The World According to Student Bloopers" is hysterical. However, as when eating fettucine alfredo, somewhere around halfway through, continuing begins to amount to a low-grade form of torture. Mostly the author tries to hard. I found myself chuckling for about one out of every five attempts at humor in the latter chapters, and the final chapter on "Slurvians" was the worst part of the book.
Jan 03, 2015 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
almost every second paragraph of the introduction promised how funny and laugh till it hurts hilarity would be in the pages. I found some funny, but it was definitely a nitpicky book rather than celebrating blatant mistakes.
racists warning: there is a woman in blackface in one of the illustrations. that alone should allow me to put this at zero stars. I mean, come on, the book was published in the nineties, not the sixties.
Not nearly as funny as that introduction would like you to believe.

Essentially long lists of various English-language blunders, so there's bound to be something that makes you chuckle. (Although that last section on "Slurvian" should've been dropped altogether.)

Probably doesn't help that this is 1987, so I had already come across darn near all of these somewhere else.
May 08, 2010 Mariah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, grammar, syntax
This is fun casual read. Share bits of it with your most punny friends. Lederer is a great columnist, and this book is a natural fit for his followers.
Isaac Wilson
May 27, 2013 Isaac Wilson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Casual, short-session readers
While the book as a whole was good, a couple of downfalls gives me hesitation to refer this book to others. The second chapter was brilliant, piecing together a warped world history using the mistakes of students in their essays. However, as the book goes on, it feels like Richard Lederer is trying too hard to pull together some of the jokes, with many mistakes that simply don't tickle the funny bone.

The presentation as truth of the commonly quoted JFK German translation mistake (proved to be a
Jan 17, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
I received this book as a gift...and what a gift it was! Sometimes, the funniest moments in life are completely accidental. Anguished English, as the title suggests, is a compendium of blunders, bloopers, and mistranslations guaranteed to split your sides.

The book is divided into a number of chapters; the first few deal with "Schoolishness," that being the bloopers of students. A group of my friends have long cherished some of the gems from this section.

Other chapters are cleverly titled "Disord
Richard Thompson
We actually read this book years ago (and have dipped into it countless times since) but that was pre-Goodreads so it has never been logged as a Goodreads book.

The book is a collection of malapropisms, mangled meanings and garbled grammar which are supposedly drawn from student writing, newpaper headlines, public signage and celebrity quotes. Some of the examples are, I suspect apocryphal, and some are less fresh than they were back when the book was published (thanks to their wide distribution
Vashti Puls
Jan 24, 2013 Vashti Puls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy read and a humorous way to pass the time! If you have ever been a teacher, a writer or one of those people who hates words such as "ain't", you will love this book. I myself since having a brain injury have found myself a member of the non-sequitur club! Yogi Berra has always been one of my favorite comedians (without his meaning to). One of my favorite
quotes by him is in this book.

When Mickey Mantle asked him "What time is it?" Berra replied: "you mean right now?" How much more zen like
Nov 08, 2007 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hall-of-fame, humor
The perfect bathroom book, provided you can sit on the can while laughing uncontrollably. Lederer has collected the most hilarious misuses of the English language from student papers ("The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East and the sun sets in the West"), newspaper advertisements ("Stock up and save. Limit: one"), accident reports ("My car sustained no damage whatsoever, and the other car somewhat less"), foreign shop signs (in Hong Kong, a clockwork to ...more
Mar 10, 2016 Lynette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, confession time: I needed a couple of slender books with light topics. This fit the bill, but had the added benefit of making me laugh until my sides ached. In the foreword, Lederer warns to sip the book, rather than imbibe in gulps -- but I had no time to sip, as I still have two more books to read before I reach my 100, as per my challenge (and only one more day). I still found the work hilarious. My parents have Bloopers and More Bloopers (published some time in the fifties or even fortie ...more
Drikus Roux
Oct 19, 2012 Drikus Roux rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: language
This is an easy read. It deals with common assaults (mistakes with words, and, or phrases) on the English language. You get an appreciation for how common Americans, butcher the language. As for second-language users, the mistakes we make, are very similar.

Unfortunately, with the advent of email, and youtube, many of the humorous sign mistakes, have been distributed to us to ad nausea.

None-the-less, there are a few good giggles, and some whooooaaah moments, about silly mistakes, we all make ever
Apryl Anderson
This was amusing, and several times I really did LOL. The muddled history chapter of 'The World According to Student Bloopers' made this little ABCDière find worthwhile. The majority of the book included variations on sexual innuendo, which I suppose is to be expected from a high school writing, anyway. Whoops, your Freudian slip is showing.

(3 days later) I'm willing to give a couple of extra stars for the joy of hearing my daughter read 'Anguished English.' Her laughter was contagious =0)
Jun 06, 2016 Milo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some sections are laugh-'til-you-cry hilarious. Other sections are just a bunch of examples that contain no humor, and where often the intended meaning is clear enough that you have to squint at the text indefinitely to find the unintentional joke -- or else the joke just isn't funny (that's subjective, of course). I'm rounding up to four stars, because the better sections of the book made me laugh harder than I have laughed in a while.
Feb 21, 2008 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of the English language
This is great - the author, after many years teaching English, presents the weirdest and funniest bloopers his students have come up with in the various things they wrote in his classes. The picture on the cover, of Shakespeare grimacing in horror, is apt - you can almost hear the great writers of Western history screaming "No, no, make it stop!" in response to some of the butcheries performed on their works. I laughed out loud on more pages than not.
Nov 12, 2008 Danae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I'm just not in a happy enough place right now, but I was disappointed by this book. I really had read most of these through various e-mails and Readers Digest quotes over the years...I giggled a little from time to time, but never really found myself saying, "Oh, I have to get back to that hilarious book!" It wasn't awful, but it was a good thing it was short or I would call it a waste of time.
Bob Schmitz
Oct 20, 2015 Bob Schmitz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
Basically a long list of funny things that students, newspapers, signs said. Some had me laugh out loud but I had to take it in small doses like someone who tells continuous jokes or puns. Examples: headline: CHILD'S STOOL GREAT FOR USE IN GARDEN. misspellings: "Full Coarse Meals" or student papers: "Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100ft clipper." You get the idea. I found the book and spent the right amount of money on it.
Dec 21, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
Is thought this would be more a humorous look at grammar errors (a la "Eats, Shoots and Leaves") instead of a collection of grammatical errors. This is really just one big, long list of such mistakes. Thus, while occasionally amusing, generally speaking I found myself getting bored. For me, it's a book I could have thumbed through in the store and been just as satisfied as I was by reading the whole thing.
The first chapter of this book, in which Lederer combines genuine mistakes that students have made into one big essay, is really the best chapter of the book, and that is really saying something. The rest of the book isn't that great, but that first chapter is so funny that it gives my aunt asthma attacks. I'm not kidding.
Aug 29, 2008 Jared rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a good laugh
Shelves: funny, books-i-own
Anguished English is a compilation of hilarious mistakes that people have made in using English. I have never laughed so hard in my life.

When I was a teenager, a friend and I read this book during a sleepover. We laughed so hard and so loudly that my parents had to come downstairs and reprimand us several times, because they couldn't sleep.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Anguished English 1 3 Feb 01, 2013 09:24PM  
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Richard Lederer is the author of more than 35 books about language, history, and humor, including his best-selling Anguished English series and his current book, The Gift of Age. He has been profiled in magazines as diverse as The New Yorker, People, and the National Enquirer and frequently appears on radio as a commentator on language. He has been named International Punster of the Year and Toast ...more
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