Edmund Weiner and English usage guides

Oxford guide to English usage

We probably all know Edmund Weiner  as one of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary. But he is also the writer of a usage guide: The Oxford Guide to English Usage. The book first came out  in 1983, and a second edition came out ten years later, revised jointly with Andrew Delahunty.

What is perhaps less well known is that Weiner is also the author of an article on usage guides as a text type. It was published in a festschrift for Robert Burchfield (1988), who was also linked to the OED and who also published a usage guide, Fowler’s Modern English Usage (1996). Weiner’s article is one of the best I have read on the topic. It proceeds from his own experience as a writer of usage guides, but it provides an excellent classification of usage problems an also suggests reasons why particular usages become usage problems and thus gain admittance in usage guides. A very worthwhile study on the topic.


Weiner, Edmund (1988), “On editing a usage guide”. In: E.G. Stanley and T.F. Hoad (eds), Words. For Robert Burchfield’s Sixty-fifth Birthday. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. 171-183

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3 Responses to Edmund Weiner and English usage guides

  1. Sounds like an interesting article. I’ll have to check it out sometime.

  2. Tom Freeman says:

    The article is available here.

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