The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, June 09, 2004  

My Bizarre Tics

The extraordinary success of Eats, Shoots & Leaves has me thinking.

Is the book inside me, the work just dying to find an audience, not about coming out, being depressed, or learning how to be poor, but instead about proper grammar, diction, and usage?

Imagine a book with chapter headings such as “That and Which,” “Compared With and Compared To,” “Presently and Currently,” “Was and Were,” and “Disinterested and Uninterested,” all discussed with that unique Rittenhouse wit.

Imagine the anger I could constructively release with such a work.

Imagine the money I could make.

If anyone were to buy such a book.

Would you?

[Post-publication addendum: Reader J.G. writes:

[I would not only buy such a book, I would buy several copies. Perhaps a dozen.

[Not only do I need one myself, but I would enjoy sending copies, anonymously, to other people. At work, I often find myself tempted to return memoranda, reports, and e-mail messages with corrections in red. My mother (an English teacher) believes grammar obsessions are genetic.

[Some suggestions for other chapter titles:

[You, You’re, and Your: It Does Make a Difference, You Moron

[You Use Too Many Commas

[Would it Kill You to Spell-Check?

[And of course: Why Persons Who Oppose the Oxford Comma Are a Dangerous Menace and Must Be Stopped

[On second thought, I’m not sure what kind of market exists for such a book. Could you find the grammatical equivalent of Richard Mellon Scaife? Someone who could buy thousands of copies and distribute them to needy souls. That would certainly reduce my level of Poor English Rage.]

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