Rebel With a Clause : Tales and Tips from a Roving Grammarian
by Jovin, Ellen

"When Ellen Jovin first walked outside her Manhattan apartment building and set up a folding table with a GRAMMAR TABLE sign, it took about thirty seconds to get her first visitor. Everyone had a question for her. Grammar Table was such a hit-attractingthe attention of the New York times, NPR, and CBS National News-that Jovin soon took it on the road, traveling across the US to answer questions from writers, lawyers, editors, businesspeople, students, bickering couples, and anyone else who uses words in this world. In Rebel with a Clause, Jovin tackles what is most on people's minds, grammatically speaking-from the Oxford comma to the places prepositions can go, the likely lifespan of whom, semicolonphobia, and more"-

ELLEN JOVIN is a founder of Syntaxis, a communication skills training consultancy. She holds degrees from Harvard in German and UCLA in comparative literature, and has studied twenty-five languages just for fun. She lives with her husband in New York City.

A grammar expert takes on vexing questions and pet peeves. Jovin, the author of several books on writing and grammar, describes her experiences traveling across the country answering the public's questions about language use. In 49 lively chapters, she recounts her conversations on punctuation, conjugation, spelling, pronunciation, and contentious word choices while offering sage and sensible advice on common areas of confusion. She writes about passersby who air their grievances about the misuse of apostrophes, and she offers jaunty but exceptionally clear illustrations of their appropriate deployment. Individual chapters cover some familiar problem areas-affect and effect, lie and lay, whoever and whomever-along with broader reflections on the evolution of verbal conventions in the digital age and the significance of a respect for language itself. The conversations that unfold on her tour are, she rightly observes, "filled with humor and feeling for the complex linguistic glue that binds us together as human beings and distinguishes us from other living creatures." Jovin's charm as an explainer of sometimes-esoteric rules and as a defender of common sense and clarity in communication is a major strength of this book. Another is her lighthearted but incisive commentary on people's emotional investments in grammar. A large part of the book's comedy comes from her descriptions of how disagreements about proper expression can pit people against one another, poisoning otherwise successful relationships. Many of the chapters describe people venting about others' grammatical lapses, and Jovin positions herself, convincingly, as not just a linguistic, but an emotional counselor, fostering healthy communication rather than judgement. The invitation she poses in her introduction-"Now, please lie down on a nice couch with this book and let's have some grammar therapy"-is well worth accepting. A delightful, educative journey through some prickly regions of English grammar. Copyright Kirkus 2022 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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