Yes! we have no mandamus
I’ve got another Garner.
If you have been reading through these posts, you know how highly I regard Bryan Garner’s book on English usage, Garner’s American Usage. It is thorough, thoughtful, comprehensive, and reasonable, and it compels respect even on the occasions when one arrives at a differing judgment about a usage. It is, if you are serious about working as an editor in America, an indispensable book.
But Mr. Garner has not limited his attention to English usage. He is the editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, and many of the twenty books he has written or edited have to do with legal subjects.
It was with pleasure that I found at my door today the new Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage (Oxford University Press, 991 pages, $65). As a layman, I expect to rely on its lucid explanation of legal terms.
But Garner on Legal Usage is more than a dictionary. It is also a usage manual, commenting on apt and inept manipulation of the language. The preface to this edition, the third, indicates that not all the writers he cites are pleased: “I have continued to resist the lobbying efforts of certain writers to have citations to their work removed. (Yes, some have actually tried to pressure Oxford University Press with letter-writing campaigns.)”
I’ve only just begun to rummage around in it, and already little treasures are surfacing, such as the Mingle-Mangle entry: “known in erudite legal circles as macaronism, soraismus, or cacozelia, was a common vice of language in early English opinions. It consists in English larded with Latin or French. …”
Garner on Usage used to be my lunchtime serendipitous reading. Now I have another fat volume in which to graze.