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Book Review: Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar by David Crystal

Crystal against crystallization

by James Harbeck

(Oxford University Press, 2017) MAKING SENSE

How can we have crystal-clear language spoken by people with a crystal-clear understanding of how it works? For one thing, don’t try to crystallize it—just Crystal-ize. Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar, by David Crystal, is for anyone who wants to get Crystal clarity on the function and uses of English. Crystal is a world-renowned British linguist, academic, and author. He is one of the leading lights of popularizing linguistic understanding; he has written, co-written, or edited more than 120 books, including the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, The Stories of English, Language and the Internet, and, most recently, a series of books beginning with Spell It Out: The Curious, Enthralling and Extraordinary Story of English Spelling, continuing with Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation, and now adding Making Sense, which gives us what is effectively an introductory course in English linguistics—syntax, morphology, semantics, pragmatics, and history—written for people who want something readable and usable. And he adds some extra details that you’re more likely to get in a course in effective writing.

It can be difficult to review a book that has nothing wrong with it. Honestly, in real life I would normally just say, “If you’re interested in grammar, read this book; if your work in any way involves grammar—and of course it does—read this book; even if you know a lot about grammar already, it will still be worth your time.” But let me give you some more details so you know why I’m recommending it. (more…)

Webinar: What’s wrong with this sentence?

Correct usage of language is paramount to effective communication. The education system—from primary through post-secondary—does not offer students the tools needed for communicating effectively, whether verbally or in writing. The webinar is based on a workshop that was originally developed for the Canadian Authors’ Association national conference, and has since been presented to numerous groups, from university professors to public relations experts to journalists. It returns to the basics of language: when and how to use me, “myself, and I; clarifying appropriate adjectives and adverbs such as effective versus affective; avoiding split infinitives; the possessive apostrophe versus the contractive apostrophe; and dangling modifiers, among many other common usage issues.

The key concept of the webinar is that participants will gain (or possibly regain) a sense of the importance of correct usage of grammar and punctuation in the written and spoken word.

Date: Thursday, May 25
Time: 2 p.m., EDT / 11 a.m., PDT
Length: 1.5 hours
Language: English
Member price: $56.25
Non-Member price: $75
Register HERE

Melanie Scott
Melanie Scott is freelance writer and the editor of the Low Down to Hull and Back News, an award-winning community newspaper based in Wakefield, QC.