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Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World Hardcover – October 14, 2008
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“Martha Brockenbrough is hilarious.” ―June Casagrande, author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies
“A smart, up-to-the-minute take on the world of words that's funny and sometimes even bawdy.” ―Bill Walsh, author of Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style
“From her founding of the hilariously named SPOGG (Society for the Protection of Good Grammar) to her diligently penned correction letters, Martha Brockenbrough delights grammar mavens while inducing giggles. She's a tidal wave of grammar fun.” ―Mignon Fogarty, author of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
“Grammar mavens should rejoice at the appearance of this collection of nifty facts about language. I read it straight through in one sitting!” ―Grant Barrett, co-host of KPBS Radio's "A Way With Words" and author of The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English
“Do you ever feel badly or get nauseous? Things That Make Us [Sic] will cure you of those maladies and make you feel properly bad and nauseated about sloppy grammar, usage, and punctuation. It will also give you a generous dose of that best medicine: laughter. With winsome humor and humility, Martha Brockenbrough shows us how to choose language that is clear, precise, and unaffected. She also reminds us, inter alia, that 'irregardless is an irregular word, just as underwear is an irregular hat.'” ―Charles Harrington Elster, author of Verbal Advantage and What in the Word?
“'Grammar' and 'glamour' have the same derivation: an old Scottish word meaning 'sorcery.' So, good grammar is not merely a glamorous antidote to creeping meatballism, it has the power of the black arts behind it. Martha Brockenbrough is hip to these secrets.” ―Tom Robbins, author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Villa Incongnito, and Skinny Legs and All
About the Author
Martha Brockenbrough is the founder of SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, as well as a writer for Encarta.com and the former editor-in-chief of MSN.com. She is the author of It Could Happen to You and lives in Seattle with her family.
Top customer reviews
Like so many writers about "good grammar," Brockenbrough doesn't seem to have a clue about what grammar really is. There's an entire chapter devoted to Latin words and expressions used in English. There's another on punctuation. Oh, and we mustn't forget spelling, but she doesn't always get it right herself. For example, on p. 244, she gives "lying" as the present participle of "lay." (She must have forgotten that all present participles are regular in pronunciation — one just adds "-ing" or "-in'." She did get it right on page 172. (And by the way, there's a silly punctuation error right under "Rise and Raise" on page 172.) Then there's all the same ol' stuff on choosing the right word ("farther" and "further" or "faze" and "phase"). And a rant against clichés.
The one chapter I can recommend is the last one, "Rules That Never Were, Are No More, and Should Be Broken." Need I say more about that chapter (except that I loathe the so-called Oxford comma, as in the chapter title and that I found the last sentence in the chapter pathetic: "Spell well"!!!)? If such a notion interests you, you might do well to forego "Things That Make Us" and jump right in by reading "Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right: The Celebrated Cynic's Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised [and usually junked], and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers" by Jan Freeman.
Brockenbrough does give some very clever examples throughout the book, but I cannot recommend it for anyone serious about grammar since only one chapter actually deals with grammar per se: Ch. 6 "No You Can't Has Cheezburger?"
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.
No, 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 [...]
Brockenbrough also shatters some old grammar myths, probably brought over from people who would use English like Latin. No, it is NOT forbidden to split an infinitive; in some cases it's absolutely necessary. Not it is NOT forbidden to end a sentence with a preposition if reconstructing the sentence would sound awkward (and yes, "Where's he at?" is utterly forbidden, because "Where is he?" makes perfect sense). Yes, you CAN begin a sentence with a conjunction
If you've ever used "it's" as a possessive; if you've ever written "your" when you mean "you are"; if you aren't sure whether to use their, there, or they're, you desperately need to get this book for a quick lesson.
Most recent customer reviews
Perhaps, at long last, that laziest and least-brave of all approaches to life -- snark --
is beginning...Read more