Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World

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.

About Author

  1. 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.

    Reply

Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World Comment

  1. 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 [...]


  2. I always enjoyed Martha Brockenbrough s work on MSN Encarta, but I enjoyed Things That Make Us Sic even 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 gram [...]


  3. If you usually cringe when you hear somebody say expresso instead of espresso, or feel your heart skip a beat when somebody else uses the term affect or effect correctly, then this book is definitely for you The letters to celebrities will make you laugh, cry, and sometimes scratch your head in profound puzzlement The novelty wears off in a surprisingly amount of time, and the pages and pages about grammar are often repetitive.


  4. I m very much a word nerd, and get called out both in a negative and a positive fashion regularly for my use of colorful not to be confused with off color language When I saw the title of this book, it seemed like it was right up my alley, and to an extent it was, however I feel that sometimes Ms Brockenbrough got a little too smarmy by about half Aside from those occasional moments of smarm, and some repetitious bits especially the lists , though, this was an engaging and fun read, and definite [...]


  5. Read a few pages at a time As someone who earns her living by correcting people s grammar, this was right up my alley Great examples of errors, and light, amusing sense of humor in pointing them out.


  6. Some words of caution this is not an all ages or all sensibilities grammar book Anyone who s offended by sexual references or swearing probably won t appreciate some of the examples and comments Included are supposed spams for sexual aids and a section on maledicta with suggestions on how to replace certain not for the ears eyes of the sensitive words But if you re of a liberal and or forgiving mindset, it s often fun.Although it s likely true that only people who already care about grammar lik [...]


  7. I like hamburgers and I now like grammar I have always loved hamburgers, but not so much grammar Hamburgers, at least good ones, are juicy and delicious Grammar, was for me, dry and boring Now that I m older, my hips are wider and my writing, thin So what is an overweight reader to do Eat less burgers and consume grammar Yeah, this is bad, but dinner is coming up and it s the best I ve got To get to the point, I ve been on a quest to consume delicious books on grammar Hold the pompous tomato an [...]


  8. I actually REALLY enjoyed this book Yes, it was an adult ish book It was also a nonfiction bok I m really lucky that grammar has always come really naturally to me as an English first language speaker, but I loved that this elaborated on that and explained things I never knew I never knew Some of the list parts, particularly in the Vizzini chapter were really boring to me, but apart from this I was entertained and informed by the things that make us sic So I have this thing where when I like an [...]


  9. At the close of this fine, often hilarious primer on grammar, the author notes that People who buy grammar books don t usually need them, except to slam down upon the heads of others, and that s true the people who have the most to learn don t bother reading, let alone reading grammar books.But if they did, this is one I d put into their hands A far better book than the inconsistent, mistake riddled Eats, Shoots Leaves by Lynne Truss see Louis Menand rip it into tiny little pieces here tinyurl 3 [...]


  10. Really, 4 1 2 stars I am nervous to write a review for this book because I am sure I will make some sort of grammatical error, thus demonstrating that I didn t learn ANYTHING I thought this book was fabulous everything a grammar loving nerd could want If you consider yourself somewhat proficient in grammar ahem , you will enjoy smiling with smug satisfaction every time the author addresses a grammar faux pas that bothers you too I actually applauded when she ranted about those signs people hang [...]


  11. I m giving this book a combination of 5 stars for wit and 2 stars for juvenile humor Holy Cow, this book is vulgar I don t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn t the picking apart of adult product spam email grammar There s just no reason that this book had to so frequently focus on juvenile, crude material The world is full enough of grammar phobes without using the words, well, I won t subject you to that Suffice to say that page one gets us off to a PG 13 start, and rarely calms d [...]


  12. Hilarious and informative book all about grammar and the strange amusing dumb etc mistakes that people of all walks of life make Actually, the book helped me figure out a few things that I need to improve upon in my vocabulary grammarch as cutting flabby words Brockenbrough s humor is very witty the book was easy to read and convenient to carry around on my bus rides However, as time passes by, the references in the book may become outdated pertain to only a certain age group generation there ar [...]


  13. I probably would have liked this book better if I hadn t already read and loved Eats, Shoots Leaves first and if it didn t contain several errors Errors happen in books I understand that But in a book about grammar and style, it s hard to not find typos a bit jarring Overall, this book was enjoyable and fairly informative The letters to celebrity grammar offenders were the book s highlights The organization is a bit confusing at times and certain sections could have been shortened or omitted Do [...]


  14. I loved this book You know, it s really hard to write a book that s funny but doesn t try too hard Brockenbrough pulls it off She is a smart writer, all around I learned a few things too, which for me as a teacher of grammar is a lot of fun Why don t I give it 5 stars Well, it was published in 2008, which means it was written just before 2008, and there are a couple of political references in here which turn me off They aren t many, and they aren t too overt, but they re enough that I wouldn t f [...]


  15. As a teacher, I know it s pretty hard to make Grammar an engaging subject to teach for twenty minutes, so I wasn t sure how I d fair reading a whole novel on it I read this book to help improve my own grammar skills to better teach my students My background on grammar has pretty much been a monkey see, monkey do kind of approach I could read a sentence and know when it felt wrong, but I couldn t name to you all the specific reasons and proper names of why Since I have begun teaching ESL students [...]


  16. First off, there were a few spelling grammatical copyediting errors than I d ve hoped in such a work Worse, some came along fairly early, before the author had built up any karma.That being said, overall the book is entertaining, educational, and funny There are a few sections that devolve into laundry lists of terms or rules, but for the most part, the knowledge imparted is interesting I enjoyed the letters that SPOGG has sent out to various personalities including Her Royal Majesty Queen Eliz [...]


  17. If anyone still teaches grammar in the classroom, this would be good source material Brockenbrough brings nice humor to a potentially dull subject, but she s absolutely right when she says no one who voluntarily reads a book on grammar truly needs it I knew most of this stuff before though I don t always remember to apply it , but she does write engagingly My big gripe is that she does not address the President s Day Presidents Day controversy yes, it still bothers me , which is all I really wan [...]


  18. An American, vulgar, sarcastic version of Eats, Shoots Leaves The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation This is another book dedicated to people that cringe whenever they see signs such as, Smile, your on camera The author highlights big offenders in grammar, including Viagra Spam emails, sex texting politicians, and back country store owners everywhere.The second half of the book is a very handy reference book for anyone that writes in the English lanuage on a regular basis.


  19. I have mixed feelings about this book I love grammar I just love it So shouldn t I love the person who founded National Grammar Day and SPOGG To be frank, she began to grate on my nerves This book has been compared to Eats, Shoots Leaves by Lynne Truss, but I find Truss s book a million times endearing I feel like Martha Brockenbrough isn t on my side like she s criticizing my grammar with a gleeful sic Though I learned some pretty helpful things reading this book and there are some mistakes th [...]


  20. I really enjoyed this book It was straightforward and entertaining It s a book about grammar in the same vein as Eats Shoots Leaves Among other things the book contains letters from SPOGG The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar to various grammar offenders including several musicians and politicians She also imagines at least one celebrity in grammar rehab which was quite amusing.


  21. Half of this book is commentary on the grammar problems of our society That s what I expected to be in this book I enjoyed her commentary, as I enjoy it in her column s.The other half of this book is How To Use Proper Grammar I may have learned one or two things, but most of it was so basic that it made the book a chore to read The people that need the textbook half won t get the commentary The people that are educated enough to enjoy the commentary don t need the textbook half It probably shoul [...]


  22. People who buy grammar books usually don t need them The above is quoted from this book and is also the strongest argument I can make against reading it.It s an unusual creature As a reference book it contains too much fluff and as a leisure read it contains too much reference material On the whole, I did enjoy it but I suspect I m one of the few.If you find yourself with a little free time and wish your grammar was little stronger, or just want a laugh how bad some others are, you could do wors [...]


  23. If you re one of the crazy people who find errors in your everyday travels i.e the following Martini s 3.00, Manager s find they re not using there talents wisely, I am over hear d any other misspellings, not typos.cially when used on menus, signs or any advertising then this book is for you I don t mean to be a nitpicker, but these errors just drive me bonkers and they just leap out from wherever they have been placed NOTE any errors above are intentionaljust to see if you are paying attention [...]


  24. Things That Make Us Sic , besides having an awesome title, is a book about grammar and punctuation in the real world Brockenbrough lays out the fundamental rules of grammar and punctuation in an easy to understand way and throws in a few references to Princess Bride and lesser pop culture, too So if, say, you have no idea what a comma splice is or whether to insure or ensure, you can read this book and find outad


  25. A funny yet enlightening book which deftly explains some of the confusing words, phrases, and punctuation dilemmas of the English language The author is the founder of TSPOGG The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar and PLEASE don t misspell that last word Brockenbrough writes letters to people who offend her grammatically speaking She includes copies of her letters in the book She even includes the response she received after writing to Queen Elizabeth II Whether you know grammar or only k [...]


  26. The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, The White House, and the world A lighthearted poke at grammar mistakes and how to correct them, this book is an informative read as well as a fun one It does allow readers to use some less formal grammar that may be technically incorrect but sounds less pompous than the correct grammar If you don t know how to speak proper no , this is a good refresher.


  27. I laughed out loud on the bus and the train three different times The train is okay, but there is a much higher probability of knowing people on the bus but still, there s some funny stuff in here The only thing I didn t like was some of the editing errors while we may forgive a slip up in the New York Times every now and then, it is less forgivable in a book ostensibly about correct grammar Still, I would be proud to be a member of SPOGG


  28. Some literary agency in New York sent me this book with a note that said, We thought you deserved this Once I got over being creeped out, I enjoyed the book Although, ironically, I did find three errors in it This book is funny, but it tries a little too hard For entertaining and informative books like this, look to Bill Walsh s Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style.


  29. Another in the current plethora of grammar books The letters from The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar are the book s highlight Brokenbrough does a nice job of providing historical background to grammar rules and marks of punctuation including the interrobang an exclamation point on top of a question mark for questions with emphasis She also provides Clip and Send letters for the reader s use I dint reed the grammer sections cause I new most of that stuff allready.


  30. I thoroughly enjoyed this book I loved the author s sense of humor e.g the section where she fixes the grammar of some very naughty email messages is hilarious and her modern references to Justin Timberlake and Courtney Love, among others, makes it feel relevant If you love grammar, pick it up


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *