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Lapsing into a Comma : A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go… (2000)
by Bill Walsh
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As a stickler for correctness and very old school when it comes to dangling participles and split infinitives, not to mention the whole issue of constantly morphing comma usage, I find myself wandering through mine fields of doubt when writing in a contemporary voice. American English is not what it was fifty or even thirty years ago when I was diagramming sentences in sophomore English. We've loosened up. We've accommodated change. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter for debate, but it is so, and so we adapt or become obsolete.
Mr. Walsh does a terrific job of guiding writers around the pitfalls and ambiguities which have resulted in American English getting hip. And, he does it with authority: Here's Goodread's author bio:
Bill Walsh was born in Pennsylvania coal country but grew up in Madison Heights, Mich., and Mesa, Ariz. He is a 1984 journalism graduate of the University of Arizona and has worked as a reporter and editor at the Phoenix Gazette and an editor at the Washington Times and the Washington Post. He is now the chief copy editor for national news at the Post.
Language is my living. I forge words and thought into meaningful communication. Whether someone else's words or my own, I manipulate them in image, print and page, hopefully creating a coherent whole. And that coherence depends a great deal in understanding my audience. Whether I'm editing a manuscript or a master's thesis, transcribing medical documentation or personal history interviews, constructing business prospectuses, blogging, or writing historical fiction in my Regency voice, the form and style I use must connect with the reader, rather than throw up roadblocks because we're not really speaking the same language.
Changing voices strikes dread in my heart at times (I'm much better at clinical than casual) and I accept the degeneration of change in language usage kicking and screaming. However, Mr. Walsh is of my generation, far better educated, and is editor of one of the most respected journals in the country. So, whenever I argue with myself about who vs. whom or the proper placement of commas this week, I find refer to his opinion.
Then, I go and do what I want anyway.
Lots of fun, even if I don't agree with everything in the book. If you're reading for practical purposes and not just for fun, some of the material is dated.
Full of humor and good advice. I laughed aloud many times while reading this, although admittedly I found Strunk and White engaging and got a chuckle out of them as well, so bear in mind my sense of humor is odd.
A funny look at grammar and writing style and the rules behind them. This is a style guide so a little dry for the causual reader, but if you're looking for a guide to American grammar then this is a good one to choose. The examples are clear, the descriptions often humourous and he covers all the pitfalls that you might come up against. If you're looking for a guide to British grammar, then I'd recommend the Economist style guide.
No writer's or editor's desk is complete without a battered, page-bent copy of the AP Stylebook. However, this not-so-easy-to-use reference of journalistic style is often not up-to-date and leaves reporters and copyeditors unsatisfied. Bill Walsh, copy chief for the Washington Post's business desk, addresses these shortcomings in Lapsing into a Comma. In an opinionated, humorous, and yes, curmudgeonly way, he shows how to apply the basic rules to unique, modern grammar issues. Walsh explains how to deal with perplexing situations such as trendy words, foreign terms, and web speak.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)808.027Literature By Topic Rhetoric and anthologies Rhetoric and anthologies Authorship techniques, plagiarism, editorial techniques Editing and scholarly writing
No writer's or editor's desk is complete without a battered, page-bent copy of the AP Stylebook. However, this not-so-easy-to-use reference of journalistic style is often not up-to-date and leaves reporters and copyeditors unsatisfied.
Bill Walsh, copy chief for the Washington Post's business desk, addresses these shortcomings in Lapsing into a Comma. In an opinionated, humorous, and yes, curmudgeonly way, he shows how to apply the basic rules to unique, modern grammar issues. Walsh explains how to deal with perplexing situations such as trendy words, foreign terms, and web speak. ( )