The Queen’s English by Bernard C. Lamb

The Queen’s English by Bernard C. Lamb – And How to Use It. It is a short guide, filled with useful information. Lamb is the President of the Queen’s English Society, so a uniquely qualified person to write a book on Queen’s English. The book covers all the basics, from grammar, punctuation, and spelling to style, rhetoric, and vocabulary. The book is illustrated with funny drawings as well, making it a fun read.
As you can imagine, there are some hilarious examples of when things go wrong, like the Wicked Bible of 1631, when one of the commandments was printed as: “Thou shalt commit adultery”, as someone forgot the extremely important “not”. I would have thought that this might be popular with the people, but most of the copies were burned.

The Queen's English by Bernard C. Lamb

There is a mistake in the book, about the Oxford comma (or serial comma). He says in the book that “Some people use commas before and even in simple lists. This is called a serial comma, or Oxford comma, and is used as standard in the US.” I hate to say it, but this is wrong. I’m an Oxford comma enthusiast and I would defend its importance any time I get the chance.
There is a good example on why this comma matters: “I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty”. The last person, in some variations, is Jesus, or I saw one with Mother Theresa and the Pope, isn’t it hilarious?

Serial comma is used as standard by Oxford University Press, so this hardly makes it a rule followed only in US. Unlike an example that he gave about a comma for which I didn’t find anything online, the Oxford comma instead proved to be very important for a company in Maine. Oakhurst Dairy had to pay $5 millions in overtime to their drivers due to missing an Oxford comma in the law.

I was not too keen on the examples of modern English, but I enjoyed the chapter on word origins. I liked the book and I would recommend it.

The Queen’s English by Bernard C. Lamb

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Michael O’Mara
Year it was published: 2015 (first published in 2010)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Grammar
Pages: 256

About the author: Bernard C Lamb is Emeritus Reader in Genetics at Imperial College London, and President of the Queen’s English Society, a registered charity which, since it was founded in 1972, has become a recognized authority on ‘proper’ English.
He wrote a few books, including How to Write about Biology and English for Technology.
Website & Social Media Links: –

1 thought on “The Queen’s English by Bernard C. Lamb”

  • I, too, am a firm believer in using the Oxford comma. I think it can make a great difference in how a sentence is understood!

    It’s cute how they used a Corgi silhouette behind Queen’s on the cover.

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