I always enjoyed Martha Brockenbrough s work on MSN Encarta but I enjoyed Things That Make Us Sic even more This is not only because it reinforces everything one already knows about the English la
I always enjoyed Martha Brockenbrough's work on MSN Encarta, but I enjoyed Things That Make Us [Sic] even more. This is not only because it reinforces everything one already knows about the English language, but also because it reminds us of lessons one may have forgotten since grammar school. Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, covers many topics, including punctuation, irregular syntax in meme culture, jargon, cliches, parts of speech, pop star and spam grammar, tenses, grammar nazis, and many more fun topics. Martha does a great job at capturing and retaining her audience's attention by sprinkling the entire book with cultural references, puns, witticisms, and sexual innuendo. It works! It had me laughing the whole time, and I even learned many things I must have slept through in English class.Unlike other grammar books, which tend to be condescendingly preachy, Things That Make Us [Sic] has a healthy a mix of prescriptivist and descriptivist grammar. Martha Brockenbrough is one of the humblest authors I have ever known. In the beginning of the book, she tells us that the goal of The Society For The Promotion of Good Grammar is to promote "clean, correct, well-punctuated English"-- NOT for perfect grammar, for various reasons: "First, it would make a terrible acronym. Second, I am far too prone to errors despite my best intentions, and I'd lose my membership quickly. Third, perfect grammar is impossible to achieve in an ever-shifting sea of rules. And finally, there are cases when 'good' is either good enough, or better than perfect " (54). Try saying that to an English-- though I wouldn't. There are some battles that will never won.Martha prescribes how to best abide by the rules of grammar as currently followed in the English language, but is open-minded enough to accept that language is alive and in a perennial state of evolution. Martha is humble and would never admit this, but that open-mindedness is the mark of a true literati. As I wrote in another blog titled "Grammar Nazism, Pseudointellectualism, and Latent Control Issues" ( my link text, only pseudointellectuals from the Internet seem to be the most prone to closed-minded hypercorrectness: " I believe good grammar is important. On the other hand, grammar nazism strikes me as nothing more than a diversion from the main point by people who have nothing substantial to say, and therefore try to compensate by making a show of the superficial. Like good little sheep, pseudointellectuals following rules to the letter, no pun intended. " Even Martha, the queen of grammar, warns against extreme traditionalism in grammar, and encourages readers to accept the inevitable evolution of letters which has been happening since forever, and will continue to happen forevermore.I really enjoy the way Martha debunks many of the myths currently upheld by the staunchest grammar nazis, such as the famous rule of not ending a sentence with a preposition. "If the preposition were an animal, it would be a black cat, tarred senseless with superstition " (157). Winston Churchill, who once said that this rule is something up with which he will not put, illustrates the point and would wholeheartedly agree. The verdict is that this rule is merely a myth going back to our obsession with Latin, and that a sentence can most definitely end with a preposition, "as long as the sentence flows naturally. It's preferable, in fact, to primly tangled syntax. Imagine if Bonnie Raitt had called her song 'Something About Which To Talk'" (157). Fancy that!Martha explains that "One reason English spelling is so tough-- a word that does not rhyme with cough-- is that our mother tongue tangled with many fathers.... French and Latin words have jumbled themselves with the original Anglo-Saxon ones, and why promiscuous English has so many interesting children. Let's face it: English is a bit of a trollop, and spelling has never been her strong suit. Even our greatest writer, Shakespeare, spelled his own name a half dozen different ways. English appears to feel bad about her slatternly ways, though. She has an inferiority complex to Latin and Greek, and many spelling exceptions heed the Latin rules" (60-61). Who can forget a lesson like that? Hilarious! Martha is a superb writer who not only is a master of grammar and clarity, but is also a highly intelligent comedian and superior strategist in the art of writing. She truly knows what jokes and references with which to capture the audience's attention at key moments of the reading. The ultimate conclusion that I got from the book is this: no matter how annoying the pseudointellectual grammar nazis may be, and no matter how closely one follows the evolution of language throughout history, it is best to follow the grammar rules of the day. That is where the prescriptivist part of the book comes in. Martha explains that this is because "there are persnickety people out there who are not yet ready to learn that Santa, Country Sunshine, and the solemn words of Sister Sheila are not literal truths. The point of writing and speaking is to be understood, and if people get hung up on your allegedly bad grammar, you'll fail in that critical mission" (222). A mission that Martha Brockenbrough most successfully accomplishes in Things That Make Us [Sic].Good Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World Author Martha Brockenbrough go inside Books This book is for people who experience heartbreak over love notes with subject verb disagreementsr anyone who s ever considered hanging up the phone on people who pepper their speech with such gems as irregardless, expresso, or disorientated d for the earnest souls who wonder if it s Woe is Me, or Woe is I, or even Woe am I MaThis book is for people who experience heartbreak over love notes with subject verb disagreementsr anyone who s ever considered hanging up the phone on people who pepper their speech with such gems as irregardless, expresso, or disorientated d for the earnest souls who wonder if it s Woe is Me, or Woe is I, or even Woe am I Martha Brockenbrough s Things That Make Us Sic is a laugh out loud guide to grammar and language, a snarkier American answer to Lynn Truss s runaway success, Eats, Shoots Leaves Brockenbrough is the founder of National Grammar Day and SPOGG the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar and as serious as she is about proper usage, her voice is funny, irreverent, and never condescending Things That Make Us Sic addresses common language stumbling stones such as evil twins, clich s, jargon, and flab, and offers all the spelling tips, hints, and rules that are fit to print It s also hugely entertaining, with letters to high profile language abusers, including David Hasselhoff, George W Bush, and Canada s Maple Leafs sic , as well as a letter to and a reply from Her Majesty, the Queen of England Brockenbrough has written a unique compendium combining letters, pop culture references, handy cheat sheets, rants, and historical references that is as helpful as it is hilarious.. Martha Brockenbrough is author of The Game of Love and Death, Finding Bigfoot, The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy, and Devine Intervention, books for young readers For adults, she has written Things That Make Us Sic , a hilarious guide to things that can go wrong with English, and It Could Happen to You, a diary of her first pregnancy She s the founder of National Grammar Day and SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.. Good Kindle Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World Like a one-woman vigilante, Martha Brockenbrough* exposes assorted crimes against the English language and offers crisp, witty advice on spelling, grammar, and usage to the offenders. Her favored tactic is the open letter, wherein she points out the mistakes in (gently) mocking fashion, then goes on to suggest remedies. All with infinitely greater wit than that bore Lynne Truss, in this reviewer's opinion.Her point of view is stated with admirable clarity on page 3:"It is time for those of us who love and respect our language to take it back. Clear, grammatical communication is society's foundation. It is what helps us understand and be understood. If we let that bedrock crumble from neglect, or if we actively chip away at it in a misguided fit of anti-intellectualism, then we run the risk of watching the world around us collapse."Ms Brockenbrough covers familiar terrain, efficiently and entertainingly, in ten chapters (250 pages):Grammar for spammers and pop stars.Vizzinis, Evil Twins, and Vampires.You Put a Spell on Me.Vulgar Latin and Latin Lovers.$%&*#$ PunctuationNo, You Can't Has Cheezburger? The Parts of Speech and How Sentences Form.Things that Make Us Tense.Cliches - why Shakespeare is a Pox Upon Us.The Enemy Within - Flab, Jargon, and the People in your Office.Rules that Never Were, are no More, and Should be Broken. Whether taking David Hasselhoff to task for describing his life story as 'heart-rendering' or enumerating all 21 errors in Congressman Mark Foley's now-infamous erotic text message to a congressional page ("the word is not spelled 'buldge'; 'one-eyed snake' needs a hyphen; 'hand job' has only one a"), Martha Brockenbrough is never less than entertaining. This book is both a welcome, witty salvo in the war against bad English and a hilariously helpful guide on how to avoid it.*: Ms Brockenbrough is the founder of SPOGG, the Society for Promotion of Good Grammar, whose website is at www.SPOGG.org.