This is a history of arguments about the English language.

It probes some of English's thorniest issues: attitudes to accents, the roles of slang and swearing, the oddities of English spelling, the perilous condition of the apostrophe, and who should set the rules of "proper" English.

Along the way it shows the degree to which individuals have shaped ideas of correct usage, and its cast of characters includes such memorable figures as Jonathan Swift and the composer Percy Grainger (who thought that the telephone should be called a "thor-juice-talker").