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

Crystal against crystallization by James Harbeck (Oxford University Press, 2017) 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 … Continue reading Book Review: Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar by David Crystal

Webinar: A linguist’s guide to grammar

What you learned in English class will help you with syntax about as much as what you learned in driving lessons will help you with mechanics—you get by fine until one day you find yourself stopped in the middle of a sentence with smoke coming out from under the hood. In this webinar, we're going … Continue reading Webinar: A linguist’s guide to grammar

Is it art? Well, how does it feel?

By James Harbeck There has been much discussion of the Nobel Prize in Literature being awarded to Bob Dylan. I have no interest in weighing in on whether his work is Nobel quality—I won’t pretend to understand the judges’ criteria—but I do have some thoughts on the question of whether a songwriter is even eligible … Continue reading Is it art? Well, how does it feel?

Wordplay: Contronyms: To sanction or to sanction?

Wordplay is a regular column by editor and language writer James Harbeck in which he tastes and plays with English words and usages. There are some words in English we may not know whether to sanction. They are so impregnated with meaning that their meaning may seem impregnable. If you try to hold them fast, you … Continue reading Wordplay: Contronyms: To sanction or to sanction?