November 29, 2006

BECAUSE SOME THINGS ARE JUST UNPUTUPWITHABLE (via Gene Brown):

This Christmas, Give the Gift that Keeps On Giving: Grammar. (Henry Edmondson, November 27, 2006, Townhall)

There is nothing more elegant than a well - turned phrase, a persuasive paragraph or an evocative sonnet. Without an appreciation of beauty, though, nothing is beautiful, nor is anything ugly. The moral implications of such linguistic poverty are frightening to contemplate.

What might make a nice grammatical gift for the holidays? The best books on grammar are both a delight to read and also follow the rubric "less is more." The ones to avoid take a shoehorn and cram so many rules into the text that the reader may be driven in despair to sign language. Entertaining grammar need not be an oxymoron.

In my view, until the day that James J. Kilpatrick decides to combine his weekly syndicated column "The Writers Art" into a text, we'll just have to settle for second best.

Lynne Truss's cleverly titled "Eats, Shoots and Leaves", now a classic, is out in paperback for the holidays. A Grammar Book for You and I (Oops, Me): "All the Grammar You Need to Succeed", by C. Edward Good, is as practical as it is witty.

Going on two decades, William Safire's "How Not To Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar", is just the right size to stuff the stocking. Safire advises, "In their writing, everyone should make sure that their pronouns agree with its antecedent." My favorite this year is "The Mountain Man's Field Guide to Grammar: A fearless Adventure in Grammar, Style, and Usage." The examples fit the theme nicely. In respect to the conjunction "but", it is redundant to say, "Zeke Hatcher had no doubt but that Parker Daniels deserved to hang." Better in this case to omit the conjunction and get on with justice: "Zeke Hatcher had no doubt that Parker Daniels deserved to hang."

Finally, if your interest is more in style than in grammar, consider either the perennial favorite by Strunk and White, "The Elements of Style", and the newer contender, "Write Tight" by William Brohaugh. None of these recommendations is likely to be returned on December 26.


One of the best things about the recent Far From the Madding Gerund is its hilarious sustained assault on Strunk & White.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2006 3:05 PM
Comments

I'm pretty sure one goes straight to hell for criticizing Strunk & White. If not, one should.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at November 29, 2006 7:45 PM

When we read the article we are confronted by the laughable, almost embarassing gaffe concerning the good professor's having volunteered to teach Latin and observing that students who do not comprehend the English indirect object have difficulty understanding the Latin ablative case.

No doubt they do, but those students are not the only ones whose grasp of grammar is somewhat shaky. Of couse is the Latin DATIVE case, and not the ablative which stands for the noun to whom or for whom an action is done.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 30, 2006 10:57 AM
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