Songs of grammar and punctuation
Usually I review serious resources here and in the newsletter—books and other media that will help copyeditors do their jobs better, find work, or otherwise advance their careers.
But even copyeditors need some fun once in a while. In honor of May Day and in the spirit of spring festivals, today I review two lighter looks at our beloved language: Songs of Love and Grammar and Punctuation..?
Songs of Love and Grammar
You may be familiar with James Harbeck (@sesquiotic) from his blog Sesquiotica, which focuses on word-tasting notes. Harbeck’s new book, Songs of Love and Grammar, is a collection of poems about love and language, with a humorous twist.
Each poem not only plays with words but also encompasses a lesson in language. The poem is followed by a short note explaining the lesson. Lessons include usage of all of [this or that] instead of all [this or that], sentences starting with a conjunction, the ambiguity and commonality of misplaced modifiers, and more.
The book is divided into sections according to content:
- Unromantic interlude
The poems are a pleasure to read, structured with rhythm, meter, and rhyme, telling entertaining stories of people and language usage. From “Misplaced Apprehensions”:
Yesterday evening, dressing to go out,
my wife and I shared a sense of doubt.
Putting on her lipstick, I told my dear
that somehow something wasn’t clear.
Putting on my shirt, my wife told me
that she, too, felt uncertainty.
Swapping our clothes back helped us relax
and be more careful with our syntax.
For poetry and grammar lovers, this book is worth owning. You can order a copy at Lulu.
The first thing you’ll notice about Punctuation..? by User design is the title itself. That’s not an ellipsis with the question mark, as I first thought was the case, but two periods. Sadly, the title hints at a problem with the book.
Punctuation..? is a basic guide to British punctuation. The text is straightforward, the rules easy to grasp, and the examples helpful. Hand-drawn artwork accompanies the rules, bringing the book to life:
The problem is that the book needs a copyedit, or at least a proofread. There were many punctuation mistakes in the text, which felt ironic, and there were several places where the text could have been smoothed out for a more enjoyable reading experience.
Except for the errors, this would be a good primer for the UK’s equivalent of junior high school students, ESL students, or anyone wanting to know the basics of British punctuation. However, until the errors are corrected, I’d pass on this one.
You can order Punctuation..? from one of the retailers listed on User design’s site.
Do you have a favorite resource you’d like me to review? Let me know!