Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Mortal Syntax"

I went to a reading of June Casagrande's new book "Mortal Syntax" at the Burnside Powell's Books. I'm sure I must have skimmed her first book "Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies" since words and its usages do fascinate me. I had seen a newspaper article earlier in the day for the event and decided it might be fun to check it out. I'm glad I did. June Casagrande was funny, smart and articulate but the thing I liked most about her was she wasn't afraid to say "I don't know."

In "Mortal Syntax", she takes questionable grammatical situations and uses different reference materials to determine whether the usages are correct or not- or at least, acceptable. Some of them I already knew- like not to use "irregardless" or "I could care less". It was interesting to note how certain improper grammar have become acceptable just by having it used that way for such a long time- like "Aren't I?" And through popular use, words like "d'oh" and "bootylicious" find themselves in the dictionary and I guess that's why the words "ass" and "bitch" have become commonplace.

There was a large turnout of people- from copyeditors and teachers to regular folks like me. It made me feel smart being around them- who were all interested in grammar, words. I was glad some of them even bought her books because I did feel guilty for going there without really knowing who she was and having no intention to buy anything. What I took from the event was learning should be- and is- fun and I shouldn't let fear of looking or sounding stupid stop myself from asking questions.

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