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Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 15. Juni 1999

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You gotta love a grammar guide that calls verbs "moody little suckers" and adverbs "promiscuous." Constance Hale (Wired Style) relishes prose that is deliberate, beautiful, and bold. Go ahead and break the rules, she says; just know the rules first, and know why you are breaking them. In Sin & Syntax, Hale examines the elements of grammar from four angles: the "bones" (the grammar lesson), the "flesh" (the writing lesson), "cardinal sins" (what she calls "true transgressions"), and "carnal pleasures" (the beauty that results from either "hew[ing] exquisitely to the underlying codes of language," or not).

For illustration, Hale hails Walt Whitman and Roger Angell, and rails upon Alexander Haig and the Gump's catalogue. She hauls in Joan Didion to make a case for writing in the first person, Mark Twain to promote the killing of adjectives, C.S. Lewis to advocate showing rather than telling, and Loudon Wainwright III to lament the abuse of the word like. But Hale has no problem making her own points. "Euphemisms," she says, "are for wimps." She dismisses a particularly heinous example of scholarly prose as "a bunch of big words thrown into an Osterizer." Even other grammarians don't escape her derision: "Get a grip," Hale says. "Hopefully as a sentence adverb is here to stay." But what distinguishes Sin and Syntax most is its enthusiasm for prose that takes risks. "Even if you have to check with a lawyer," says Hale, "isn't a kick-ass piece of writing worth the effort?" --Jane Steinberg


"Move over, grumpy schoolmarms everywhere. Your time has come.  For the writer or wannabe, Sin and Syntax  is an urgently needed, updated, and hip guide to modern language and writing. Nobody but Connie Hale could make the elements of 21st-century style so much fun."
--Jon Katz, media critic and author of Running to the Mountain and Virtuous Reality

"Sin and Syntax is one of the rare books that recognizes--and even celebrates--the fact that good writing has little to do with 'rules' and much to do with a true understanding of effective prose. Connie Hale provides us an invaluable service by showing us what works and what doesn't in the real world, regardless of what the pedants say."
--Jesse Sheidlower, Senior Editor, Random House Dictionaries, and author of "Jesse's Word of the Day" column

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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Ten years ago I flew to Richmond VA to visit my cousin Phyllis who was dying of cancer. I hadn't darkened the door of church for double that time. But in the spirit of love and farewell, I went to church with Phyllis‹uncertain about my relationship with God, but certain I would draw comfort from the familiar poetry of the traditional Episcopal service. Imagine my horror when I began to recite the Apostles' Creed and found that I was out of sync with the entire congregation. By the time we came to the Lord's Prayer, the harsh reality of the situation had dawned on me. A bunch of ecclesiastic marauders had hunted down and rooted out every last tendril of poetry in the Book of Common Prayer.Imagine my delight when Sin and Syntax arrived at my door and I found Constance Hale's none-too-kind reference in the rhythm section (heh-heh) of her book to the modern revisions of the Book of Common Prayer.As a writer and a lover of language, I guarantee that Sin and Syntax is an absolute delight. It's witty, pithy and amusing. It's clear, concise and intelligent. I appreciate Hale's sections on rhythm and melody, and admire how she combines a back-to-basics perspective with a look-to-the- future attitude.I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in good writing.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
SIN AND SYNTAX should be a text in high school English classes. A generation of enthusiastic grammarians might rise up and wipe out the scourge of dangling modifiers. The mystery of lay and lie would be be solved at last. I teach adults how to turn their great ideas into the novels they've always wanted to write; and while the refinements of plot and character and theme are fairly simple to explain, grammar and syntax bedevil student and (this) teacher alike. But no more. With humor, clarity and excellent contemporary examples, this book helps me explain to my students why, after half a dozen rewrites, their sentences still sing off key, why I nag them about details, why some adjectives work and others just take up space on the page. A great resource book.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
It's not often that a grammar book causes grins, giggles, even guffaws, but Constance Hale's Sin and Syntax is not an ordinary grammar book. The entertaining examples, from sources as diverse as Mark Twain, the Bible and wine bottle labels, illustrate the "bones," "flesh," "cardinal sins," and "carnal pleasures" of each grammatical point. After Sin and Syntax, I read children's books from a new perspective. Good preschool books are often peppered with action verbs, strong adjectives and elegant simplicity. Best of all, this grammar book inspired me to start writing again! Choosing the right word is now a puzzle to be solved, and creativity oozes from every email I send.
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