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Word Court: Wherein Verbal Virtue Is Rewarded, Crimes Against the Language Are Punished, and Poetic Justice Is Done
     

Word Court: Wherein Verbal Virtue Is Rewarded, Crimes Against the Language Are Punished, and Poetic Justice Is Done

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by Barbara Wallraff
 

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By the author of the Atlantic Monthly's highly popular column "Word Court," the most engaging grammar guide of our time, with all the authority of Strunk and White and all the fun of Woe Is I.

The "Judge Judy of Grammar" was born when the Atlantic Monthly's Barbara Wallraff began answering grammar questions on America Online. This vibrant

Overview


By the author of the Atlantic Monthly's highly popular column "Word Court," the most engaging grammar guide of our time, with all the authority of Strunk and White and all the fun of Woe Is I.

The "Judge Judy of Grammar" was born when the Atlantic Monthly's Barbara Wallraff began answering grammar questions on America Online. This vibrant exchange became the magazine's bimonthly "Word Court," and eventually the bestselling hardcover book, Word Court.

In Word Court, Wallraff moves beyond her column to tackle common and uncommon items, establishing rules for such issues as turns of phrase, slang, name usage, punctuation, and newly coined vocabulary. With true wit, she deliberates and decides on the right path for lovers of language, ranging from classic questions-Is "a historical" or "an historical" correct?-to awkward issues-How long does someone have to be dead before we should all stop calling her "the late"? Should you use "like" or "as"-and when?

The result is a warmly humorous, reassuring, and brilliantly perceptive tour of how and why we speak the way we do.

Editorial Reviews

Charles Harrington Elster
If I had to pick a favorite book of word lore for the season, it would be Barbara Walraff's Word Court. Walraff is our Miss Manners of Language. Long may she reign.
San Diego Union Tribune
Atlantic Monthly
...a discursive romp amid grammatical pitfalls and semantic minefields. The subject matter is as wide-ranging and unpredictable as the column itself.
Of Ages Past
...a warmly humorous, reassuring, and brilliantly perceptive tour of how and why we speak the way we do.
USA Today
Her approach to language is a beguiling mix of charm and research.
San Francisco Chronicle
So here's a rare bird, indeed, a knowledgeable grammarian who can deliver solid language advice with a wink and a smile.
Boston Globe
Wallraff picks her way through language thickets with a sure step and a generous attitude.
Library Journal
Here are two new books by well-known columnists/language mavens. Safire is funny, thought-provoking, and, after 20 years of writing columns for the New York Times Magazine, an American institution. Gathering these columns and including many letters from readers, his book focuses on the way our language was used historically and how it is used now. The columns are clever and highly readable, and some of the letters from readers are just as much fun. Wallraff has been writing her witty column for The Atlantic Monthly for many years. Partly a style and usage manual that will be valuable for reference and on the corner of a writing desk, this book is also a written lecture by a great English teacher. Safire and Wallraff cover some of the same ground and sometimes differ, one notable example being the use of the article an before words that start with h such as historian. The best part of these books is, in most instances, that the "right" usage is not as important as reading about how the authors formed their opinions. Safire may have a slight edge owing to name recognition, but both books will put smiles on many a reader's face.--Lisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780156011181
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
08/07/2001
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
388
Sales rank:
748,932
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

What People are Saying About This

Ian Frazier
Barbara Wallraff's wit, clarity, and cheerful good sense make her disquisitions on English grammar a delight to read. The language is lucky to have her, and so are we.
Tracy Kidder
This is a charming and sensible book about langauge, by a person who clearly loves language. It ought to be required reading in every American classroom.
Steven Pinker
Word Court passes my test for a great book on style and usage: one can read it for pleasure as well as for advice. Ms. Grammar is unfailingly warm, witty, and wise, and her book reminds us of the precision and grace that our language is capable of.

Meet the Author


Barbara Wallraff (right) is a senior editor at the Atlantic Monthly, where she has worked since 1983. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Word Court : Wherein Verbal Virtue Is Rewarded, Crimes Against The Language Are Punished, And Poetic Justice Is Done 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As you learn, so shall you smile. This book stands out as engaging, enjoyable, enlightening, entertaining, and as an n-th degree perfect book on the proper use of our English language. It's a delightful education with many smiles.
Charlottes-son More than 1 year ago
Ever wonder what the rule was for mothers'-in-law, or mother-in-laws, or mother's verses mothers'? Well here you have it. If you wanted to know there rule, and beyond that why the rule, this is the book. Light hearted, this is a charming, readable book. I read it just for the fun of it. Then i learned a lot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Word Court by Barbara Wallraff is a 'must have' for anyone who cares about speaking and writing English. This is not a stuck-up 'how to' guide. Word Court is funny and extremely helpful. It should be required reading for every school child - and absolutely a must for any college student and adult who desires to speak the language properly. We all make mistakes - thank goodness we have Judge Wallraff to keep order! If you can't bear the daily wrongs to the English language any longer - then do your part! Buy Word Court and start spreadin' the news. You won't be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fun to read and is informative, too. I care about language and love to learn about it; Wallraff's book makes the latter enjoyable and fairly easy. The author makes her points with good humor and humility, yet is authoritative; she provides both a pleasurable reading experience and a valuable reference.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Atlantic is a wonderful magazine, and very well-written, so I was impressed to learn that Barbara Wallraff vets everything that goes into it and has been doing that for many years. Reading this book, I got a sense of how much care and effort by editors goes into good writing. Enlisting Wallraff's help via this book is the next best thing to having a piece accepted by The Atlantic. And she practices what she preaches: she writes beautifully herself. Terrific book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are a lot of zany questions in here that readers have asked the author, and not only does she NOT make fun of people for asking them, she answers their questions in an intelligent way. Even the questions seem interesting by the time you¿re finished reading the answers. Barbara Wallraff answers really dumb questions about words, and she answers really complicated questions about grammar, and I enjoyed reading them all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Barbara Wallraff is one of the funniest writers there is. (Or should that be ¿there are¿? She knows, I¿ll bet.) Word Court includes all sorts of little, amazing riffs. Note the guy in the raincoat in the item about question marks, for instance -- I won¿t spoil the joke here. This is humor that just happens to be a reference book by a real expert on language.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed Barbara Wallraff's column in The Atlantic for years and purchased this so i could reread some favorite columns. not only were they all in here, but there's a huge amount of new material as well. The author is both hilarious and extremely helpful about to use words. i highly recommend this book to all who read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Barbara Wallraff clearly, carefully, and thoughtfully explains wide range of issues about language. On topics like split infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions, I started out either completely confused or disagreeing with her, but by the end of the sections about those things, she¿d enlightened and persuaded me. You can use this book to get quick answers to language questions, but you can also use it to discover the thinking behind those answers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I use language-reference books for my work and have a number of them. This book reads like entertainment, but it is also seriously useful, containing well-stated versions of the major rules about grammar and words plus advice on aspects of language that no one else covers. For example, does 'I need to move the time of the meeting up' mean that you want to make it later or earlier? I'm using Word Court a lot, and I also love browsing in it just for fun.