Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Topic: Review of a Book of English Usage

10-second review: The title of the book is Origins of the Specious and Misconceptions of the English Language. Patricia T. O’Connor and Stewart Kellerman. Random House. 288 pages. Hardcover $22.

Title: Experts Dispel Common Usage Myths.” Chuck Leddy. The Writer (September 2009), 41. The Writer is a magazine by writers for writers.

Quote: “Looking at grammar myths, they say it’s perfectly acceptable to split an infinitive. ‘It’s never been wrong to ‘split’ and infinitive. That bogus rule is the most infamous member of a gang of myths that grammarians have been trying to rub out for a century and a half: Don’t end a sentence with a preposition! Don’t begin one with a conjunction. Don’t use a double negative.’ ”

Comment: My take on these proscriptions. NOT splitting infinitives almost always sounds better and smoother.

But Winston Churchill took care of the preposition rule when he showed its absurdity with this sentence: “That is something up with which I will not put.”

And as for beginning sentences with conjunctions, I do it all the time. It’s a habit, I guess, but I do think I overdo it.

As for the double negatives: They almost always confuse the reader. I say, don’t use them. RayS.

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