Do You Make These Mistakes in English? by Edwin L Battistella

Do You Make These Mistakes In English?   

The Story of Sherwin Cody's Famous Language School

by Edwin L. Battistella

Edwin Battistella reads from Do You Make These Mistakes in English? in this YouTube video from Open Books, Open Minds with Amy Blossom.

Impertinent Questions with Edwin L. Battistella by David Skinner in Humanities Mar/Apr 2010

Sherwin Cody in Wikipedia

Edwin L. Battistella in Wikipedia

In the early 1900s, the language of America was becoming colloquial English - the language of the businessman, manager, and professional. Because high school and college educations were not available to most of the public, many people turned to correspondence education - that era's distance learning - to learn the art of 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-confidence through the mail.

In this book, linguist Edwin Battistella tells the story of Sherwin Cody, the founder of modern business communication, and his famous English course, situating both the man and the course in early twentieth century cultural history.

Published by Oxford University Press in 2008.


Library Journal Best Seller in Language 2009

Times Literary Supplement
Jan 9, 2009 Review

Recommended by Choice Reviews

Cody's The Art of Writing and Speaking the English Language (Project Gutenberg)

Cody's Commercial Tests and How to Use them (School Efficiency Monograph), World Book, 1919 (Google Books)

Daniel, Carter. Sherwin Cody: Business Communication Pioneer. Journal of Business Communication, 1982.

Collins, Paul. How to Write Like a Victorian: What Can the First How-To Book for Fiction Tell Us? November 26, 2010

Edwin L. Battistella is also the Author of Bad Language: Are Some Words Better Than Others? (Oxford University Press, 2005), The Logic of Markedness (Oxford University Press, 1996) and Markedness, The Evaluative Superstructure of Language (SUNY Press, 1990).

Battistella is professor of English and Writing at southern Oregon University In Ashland, Oregon. His writing has appeared in the Chronicle of higher education, academe, choice, The oregonian, the omaha world herald, and many scholarly journals.

battiste at

last updated 2011Mar