Do You Make These Mistakes in English?: The Story of Sherin Codys Famous Language School

Hardcover | December 15, 2008

byEdwin L. Basttistella

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In the early 1900s, the language of America was becoming colloquial English-the language of the businessman, manager, and professional. Since college and high school education were far from universal, many people turned to correspondence education-that era's distance learning-to learn the artof speaking and writing. By the 1920s and 1930s, thousands of Americans were sending coupons from newspapers and magazines to order Sherwin Cody's 100% Self-correcting Course in the English Language, a patented mail-order course in English that was taken by over 150,000 people. Cody's ubiquitous signature advertisement, which ran for over forty years, promised a scientifically-tested invention that improved speaking and writing in just 15 minutes a day. Cody's ad explained that people are judged by their English, and he offered self-improvement and self-confidencethrough the mail. In this book, linguist Edwin Battistella tells the story of Sherwin Cody and his famous English course, situating both the man and the course in early twentieth century cultural history. The author shows how Cody became a businessman-a writer, grammatical entrepreneur, and mass-marketer whose adsproclaimed "Good Money in Good English" and asked "Is Good English Worth 25 Cents to You?" His course, perhaps the most widely-advertised English education program in history, provides a unique window onto popular views of language and culture and their connection to American notions of success andfailure. But Battistella shows Sherwin Cody was also part of a larger shift in attitudes. Using Cody's course as a reference point, he also looks at the self-improvement ethic reflected in such courses and products as the Harvard Classics, The Book of Etiquette, the Book-of-the-Month Club, the U.S.School of Music, and the Charles Atlas and Dale Carnegie courses to illustrate how culture became popular and how self-reliance evolved into self-improvement. This book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of English, the history of business, and American Studies generally.

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From the Publisher

In the early 1900s, the language of America was becoming colloquial English-the language of the businessman, manager, and professional. Since college and high school education were far from universal, many people turned to correspondence education-that era's distance learning-to learn the artof speaking and writing. By the 1920s and ...

Edwin L. Battistella is professor of English and writing at Southern Oregon University. From 2002 through 2004, he served as a member of the Committee on Language in the Schools of Linguistic Society of America.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 5.39 × 8.31 × 1.1 inPublished:December 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019536712X

ISBN - 13:9780195367126

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Table of Contents

Illustrations1. An Advertisement That is Never Changed2. From Literature to Business3. Good Money in Good English4. What You Want and Where to Get It5. The 100% Self-correcting Course in English Language6. Grammar and Vocabulary7. The Finishing Touches8. Every Day People Judge You9. Just 15 Minutes a Day10. A Better Self: Manners, Music and Muscles11. Smile12. Language, Culture and Anxiety13. Linguistics and the New Rhetoric14. Study at Home15. School's Out16. The Sherwin Cody LegacyAnswers to ExercisesSherwin Cody TimelineNew York Times Ads

Editorial Reviews

"Well written in a tone that would be easily digested by undergraduates and engaging for an interested non-academic reader. Battistella has done an outstanding job engaging the scholarship of history, marketing, the history of marketing, the history of education, the history of English pedagogy, and the development of the self-help industry." --Jeffrey Reaser, North Carolina State University