A few days ago James Harbeck and Stan Carey launched Strong Language, a new blog about vulgarities, and they asked a bunch of language nerds, including me, to contribute. My first post is the shit. Or maybe just shit?
We humans have been speaking for a lot longer than we’ve been writing, which is why the former comes to us so much more naturally. When we write, explains Steven Pinker in The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, the physical and temporal distance between us and our audience … Continue reading “Book review: The Sense of Style“
Journalist Wynford Hicks first published Quite Literally: Problem Words and How to Use Them in 2004, but the paperback edition became available only in the last year. Focusing on British English, this book is part usage dictionary, part writing and grammar guide, and part vocabulary builder. Hicks begins by acknowledging the divide between prescriptivists and descriptivists … Continue reading “Book review: Quite Literally“
If you’ve picked up one or two clients from across the pond, you might be looking to brush up on your UK English. Katherine Fry and Rowena Kirton’s Grammar for Grown-ups: A Straightforward Guide to Good English (published by Square Peg) is a good place to start. Fry, a freelance editor, and Kirton, the managing … Continue reading “Book review: Grammar for Grown-ups“
Good editors have an intuitive sense about language, and I know many editors who’ve never had any formal grammar training. Is knowing what “sounds right” enough? It may be, but understanding grammatical rules can be enormously empowering to an editor. Knowing the parts of speech, the difference between clauses and phrases, the distinction between independent … Continue reading “Book review: The Only Grammar and Style Workbook You’ll Ever Need“