Word Court

( 9 )

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 ...

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Word Court: Wherein verbal virtue is rewarded, crimes against the language are punished, and poetic justice is d

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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.

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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.
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.
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156011181
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/7/2001
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.86 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction, by Francine Prose

Chapter One: Who Cares
Who does care about grammar and usage questions, how much these people care, and why they are right to/

An Aside: Warning

Chapter Two: The Elements of Fashion
Our language is a work in progress, and so we must mistrust the advice of long-established usage guides, alas. Neologisms from birthing to funeralized. What increasing sexual equality and tolerance of a range of differences have meant to English, and a plea for still broader tolerance. How social trends toward informality and specialization impact (ouch!) our language.

An Aside: House Style

Chapter Three: A Grammarian's Dozen
Why you probably know more grammar than you think you do, and why this should please you. A countdown of thirteen common, often misunderstood grammar-related issues, including split infinitives, why I feel well is good grammar and I feel badly is not, ending clauses with prepositions, that versus which, what it is about hopefully, whether Magic are plural in Orlando and Jazz in Utah, what it is about unique, let's keep it between you and me, please and possessive puzzlements of all sorts.

An Aside: Diagramming Sentences

Chapter Four: Say No More
An alphabetical usage guide to often abused, confused, and traduced words, from A vs. An to Zeds and Zeros.

An Aside: Shelf Life (Useful Reference Books)

Chapter Five: Immaterial Questions
Curiosities whose corporeal existence is one way or another in doubt: Questions about words and punctuation which no one has asked. Words that don't exist. Pronunciation issues, invisible on the page. And the mystery of how one expression can manage to say the same thing twice, and whether that's bad or good.

Chapter Six: Wise to the Words
There is, of course, a wily old elephant in whose eye all of the foregoing is but a mote.

Index

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Customer Reviews

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