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Lapsing into a comma : a curmudgeon's guide…
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Lapsing into a comma : a curmudgeon's guide to the many things that can go… (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Bill Walsh

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589633,349 (4)12
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.… (more)
Member:caelleigh
Title:Lapsing into a comma : a curmudgeon's guide to the many things that can go wrong in print--and how to avoid them
Authors:Bill Walsh
Info:Lincolnwood (Chicago), Ill.: Contemporary Books, c2000. x, 246 p. ; 22 cm.
Collections:Your library
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Tags:sci wtg

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Lapsing into a Comma : A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print--and How to Avoid Them by Bill Walsh (2000)

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Showing 5 of 5
For complete review, visit: http://bit.ly/LYlYyS

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.
  Penny.Freeman | Jun 25, 2012 |
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. ( )
  atiara | Aug 2, 2010 |
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. ( )
2 vote KamilaMiller | Aug 4, 2008 |
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. ( )
2 vote JustAGirl | Feb 6, 2008 |
Summary: This book is divided into two parts: the first contains short chapters on various topics in writing (capitalization in the Internet era, vagaries of punctuation, etc.), while the second is a style guide written in short entries.

Review: While I found this book to be interesting, and frequently amusing, I didn't find it as applicable (and therefore useful) as I was hoping. The book is geared more towards copy editors than towards writers, and specifically towards newspaper employees. I am always interested in improving my writing, but a large chunk of this book just didn't apply. Conciseness is always important, but I don't have the same space worries as newspaper writers, nor am I particularly concerned with headlines. Some entries in the style guide are more relevant, although if I don't already know the correct way, I doubt I'll be able to remember it's a problem, much less figure out where to look for the issue in the (admittedly very thorough) index. Part of the problem is that it's not a comprehensive style guide, but rather an potpourri of issues with grammar, style, and spelling that Walsh finds annoying or problematic, so any particular style issue a writer faces may or may not be included. Finally, I had the same problem with this book as I did with Eats, Shoots, and Leaves - I get so hyper-style-conscious about my own writing that soon everything starts to look wrong, and I probably introduce more errors through overcorrecting than would have been there had I not read the book in the first place.

Recommendation: A diverting-enough book, but I'm having a hard time pinpointing the target audience. It's too specialized to be really applicable to the general public (or to writers in general), but those who would find it relevant and helpful would probably want something more comprehensive. ( )
2 vote fyrefly98 | Nov 22, 2007 |
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I've written a stylebook that I hope makes the following point: Be skeptical of stylebooks.
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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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