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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Humor

More Mangled Language and Pompous Usages to Avoid

Posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, at 11:00 pm

This column is mostly concerned about the written word, but even so, pronunciation will inevitably enter the picture from time to time. The expressions chomping at the bit and stomping ground are both corruptions of the original champing and stamping. People find this incredible. But, for instance, consult the 1961 cult-favorite western film One-Eyed Jacks, …

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The Word Nerd: Six Pitfalls Writers (and Others) Should Avoid

Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at 11:00 pm

That’s right, I admit it. I’m a word nerd. I pick, pick, pick at the way you express yourself. Despite protests of apathy, people of all ages care about how well they express themselves. Deep down, everyone likes to be right about language, and you can even hear little kids teasing each other about talking …

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A _____ Walks Into a Bar

Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, at 11:00 pm

The phrase A ______ walks into a bar has provided the take-off point for an uncountable number of jokes over the years. No matter what one’s opinion is of bars, we hope that everyone can appreciate the lessons in English grammar contained in the clever sentences that follow: A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying …

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The Language of Sports

Posted on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, at 11:00 pm

“I truly don’t know the language,” said the late Sparky Anderson, a Hall of Fame baseball manager, in 1993. At least he had the gumption to admit it. It’s not that they’re lazy—athletes work their tails off. And it’s not that they’re stupid—you try memorizing a football playbook. It’s just that their brand of eloquence is …

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Pop Culture Fallacies

Posted on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, at 10:59 am

Editor's note:  It was one year ago that we passed along to you the unfortunate news of the death of our popular GrammarBook writer Tom Stern. Tom loved writing about the English language, and he loved writing for and hearing from you, his audience. He was a keen observer and critic of the media. While the …

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A Really, Really Awesome List

Posted on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, at 8:16 pm

We wish to thank newsletter reader Dorothy Rosby for permission to use the clever article she developed after reading our recent posts Worn-Out Words and Phrases: 2017 and its Follow-up post. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.   It’s come to my attention that I use the words awesome and amazing far more often than my …

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Words Can Be Bullies

Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, at 2:03 pm

Words that start with the letter h don’t always act like it. Consider “herb,” when it means “an aromatic plant used for seasoning in cooking.” Americans dump the h, whereas many Brits pronounce it. So we say “an ’erb,” but an Englishman says “a herb.” A different sort of h-confusion happens when self-important speakers and …

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Annual Christmas ’Log Review

Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, at 5:46 pm

As we enter the holiday season, we thought you'd enjoy one of Tom Stern's classic reviews of his Christmas catalogs. Have you noticed that Christmas is in the air? I started noticing in October, when I received my first Christmas catalog eleven days before the start of the World Series. New ones have been arriving …

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Pop Gets It Wrong

Posted on Monday, October 3, 2016, at 8:15 pm

Misinformation spreads like bedbugs. For centuries, humans have clung to articles of faith gleaned from parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, authority figures, community leaders, and other notoriously unreliable sources. These rumors, superstitions, misinterpretations, urban legends, and baseless theories are often nothing more than quaint, harmless nonsense. Then again, try telling that to those who …

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Pop Tunes and Grammar

Posted on Monday, September 26, 2016, at 5:55 pm

For many years I’ve had a framed drawing sitting on my bookshelf. It’s from the New Yorker magazine, and it’s by the brilliant cartoonist Roz Chast. It depicts a record album titled Miss Ilene Krenshaw Sings 100% Grammatically Correct Popular Tunes. Songs include “You Aren’t Anything but a Hound Dog,” “It Doesn’t Mean a Thing …

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