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Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk Paperback – June 18, 2013
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“Reading Yes, I Could Care Less is like bellying up to your favorite neighborhood bar while a cranky yet lovable uncle holds forth on the perils of comma splices and misplaced hyphens. Walsh is combative and funny, and he doesn't suffer fools gladly In short, Walsh brings some welcome newsroom swagger and regular-guy moxie into the often prim world of style and syntax.” ―The Washington Post
“A frisky reminder that usage issues are part convention, part passion.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“You should be so lucky as to have Bill Walsh as your editor. Pay attention. Be clear. Be precise. Don't be a jerk.” ―Baltimore Sun
“If you dream about correcting the office grammar Nazi, pick up Washington Post copyeditor Bill Walsh's witty book Yes, I Could Care Less.” ―The Washingtonian
“How can you not love a language maven who admits up front (well, in the Epilogue anyway) that he's nuts? And who wouldn't be? Bill Walsh has to walk a fine line. He's enough of a pickypants to satisfy readers of The Washington Post, but he never crosses the line into jerkitude. Or hardly ever. (Give up the hyphen, Bill. The word is email.) Oh, and did I mention that's he's funny? Armed gunmen, he tells us, are ‘the worst kind.' And you probably think you know what domestic beer is. But as the author can tell you, it's in the eye of the bartender.” ―Patricia T. O'Conner, author of Woe Is I and, with Stewart Kellerman, Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language.
“In his third volume of musings and pronouncements on language, Bill Walsh argues persuasively that there's room at the table for both prescriptivists and descriptivists--or what he calls ‘the sticklers' and ‘the spoilsports.' With keen intelligence, dry humor, and panache, he exhorts us not only to think more critically about how we write and speak but also to strive for ‘tiny acts of elegance' in that ‘slippery and elusive' realm called standard American English. Some will call Walsh a demigod of usage. Others will call him a demagogue. I call him, oxymoronically, our most amiable curmudgeon of style.” ―Charles Harrington Elster, author of The Accidents of Style and Verbal Advantage
“What Walsh calls his ‘curmudgeon's stylebook' contains such useful items as differentiating names of peoples. . . . His ‘gray areas' are stimulating.” ―William Safire, On Language, New York Times Magazine on The Elephants of Style
“More from Bill Walsh! I love it. He's packed The Elephants of Style with his wisdom and expertise to help any writer look good.” ―Barbara Wallraff, former language columnist for The Atlantic Monthly, on The Elephants of Style
“A mother lode for language lovers.” ―American Journalism Review on Lapsing Into a Comma
“Bill Walsh is a stylist with a sense of humor, a rare commodity these days.” ―Frank Mankiewicz, former president, NPR, on Lapsing Into a Comma
About the Author
More About the Author
You can find me at www.theslot.com or on Twitter as @TheSlot.
Top Customer Reviews
To the extent that YICCL has a theme different from those of Walsh's earlier books, it's how language prescriptivists (i.e., sticklers) can have better relations with language descriptivists. This theme is most evident in the first seven chapters, after which Walsh wanders more freely among the usage issues that interest him. Never far beneath the surface is his general opposition to the editing-by-rote school and the monsters it can produce.
Since Walsh is not writing a conventional style guide or usage dictionary, he can be expansive and, when appropriate, indecisive. He gives many opposing opinions their due, which is one reason why he doesn't become tiresome. Another reason is that he's a master of the conversational style, particularly if you're someone of a certain age and educational background.
Needless to say, YICCL is not the book to buy if you're looking for something to help you learn when to write "its" and when to write "it's." There are plenty of books that do a much better job in that area (I would recommend Who's (oops whose) Grammar Book is This Anyway?). If you want to delve into a variety of usage hot spots, with a wise and experienced guide, this, along with Walsh's other two books, is what you want.
As is more than obvious from the reviews now showing on this page, Amazon customer reviewer opinions about Walsh and his word books run the gamut from 5 stars to 1. So what does that tell you, the potential buyer? Not much. But not to worry. Just go to Walsh's web site, theslot.com, and browse around and if, before you know it, you find time has flown by, then you've got your answer: Buy it.
I enjoyed the book, which is wittily written and has a few gems as funny as its subtitle. It probably has limited appeal, though, which Walsh himself would acknowledge. He's writing for copywriters, though anyone with an interest in English usage (whether from prescriptive or descriptive perspective) would find it interesting. I'm probably more in the prescriptivist camp, though like Walsh not a complete diehard. Naturally there are usages that he recommends that I disagree with—partly because we tend to use British, rather than American, English. There are times when he does prescribe, or says that a particular usage is to be preferred because it is elegant, yet doesn’t present a convincing reason why. But he does it with good humour, and so even when thinking “I wouldn’t do that!), he doesn’t (usually) offend.
With his sharp wit and nonprofessorial point of view -- he's a language guru who admits he probably couldn't diagram a sentence if his life depended on it -- there's a reason Bill's the "most famous" copy editor in the world.
However, I can't believe I found a typo in a book about typos and grammar! In the paperback version on page 132 (in the first complete paragraph) there is a double word "who who." How disappointing from a book by a copy editor. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love it even though I'm enough of a snob to disagree with some of his points. Also at least a laugh a page.
Hilarious and informative. Now I know how to speak a little better.Published 12 months ago by Mike Ekim
Engaging and entertaining read for anyone who loves a good turn of phrase.Published 14 months ago by mshock
A wordie's delight. This is the 3rd of Bill Walsh's books on copy editing, the other two being "Lapsing Into a Comma" and "The Elephants of Style. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Annie M