Friday, August 27, 2010

Stylish Syntax

The BloGG likes to stay à la mode, but the glamour hints offered in Roy Peter Clark's hot new book have nothing to do with the Kate Spade wedge or bewitching wearables. Instead, The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English dishes out advice for fashioning effective sentences while evading the schoolmarm's frump-factor.

Clark opens with a parable of flexible orthography from the Middle Ages, when the word "grammar" (which originally meant "learning") was twisted into "glamour," the knowledge of magic and spells. A pun does the charm: "spell" denotes "both the order of letters to form words and an incantation to show your mystical power and influence" as Clark remarks on Paper Cuts.

Now this crusading senior scholar at the Poynter Institute is out to cram the glam back in grammar. His book, which is receiving rave reviews from The New York Times and others, teaches readers how to "cross-dress the parts of speech" and treat the elegant semi-colon as a "swinging door" in a sentence.

On the first page, Clark recalls coming of age when Webster's 1961 edition kicked up a ruckus by accepting "ain't" into the fold. Rather than "refudiate" the living idiom, this grammar guru encourages readers to harness the power of words without locking language up.

Take a look at an excerpt and "Learn seven ways to invent new words" while you enjoy your August "staycation."

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