Sin and Syntax

Emily Brandt’s warm-ups and morphemes game

I recommend Sin and Syntax to my seniors and freshman honors English classes. And we used it in class to demonstrate the contrast between flat, dull writing and writing that makes use of a full range of techniques.

I have used the exercises in “Constance Hale’s Lesson Plans for Teachers” as daily warm-ups. There’s one additional exercise I’ve developed that I’d like to share: I teach my students to identify Greek and Latin morphemes in English words throughout the year.

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The elasticity of English

Being bilingual is a cornerstone of my writing life. My multi-culti take on vocabulary and grammar has given me insight into Hawaiian culture, guided my perspectives on syntax, and shaped my ideas of adventurous prose. And being bilingual has developed my ear for language and given me a true appreciation not just for vocabulary, but also for the sound of words and the rhythm of sentences.

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Making merry

So, you’re looking for the perfect gift for the language lover in your life? Look no further than the book jackets above and to the right. LOL. Seriously, though, I’ve been thinking about a gift I could give my readers, and came up with something novel. Purchase a copy of Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch along […]

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Comma Love

A big thank you for your support for Sin and Syntax, and especially the e-book. The recent promotion on Penguin Random and BookBub spread the subversive word, and I appreciated readers who shared links on social media and sent me messages. One of those messages involved a funny story reported by the AP.

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15 years & a gazillion readers

I’m thrilled to announce that Sin & Syntax has now sold—well, not exactly a gazillion copies, but well over 100,000. This is a huge milestone for me, and I’m in the mood to celebrate. I thought I’d tell you a little of the back story, as well as offering you a way to get a very very very affordable copy. (If you’ve read the book, you know I discourage the use of that adverb “very”—unless repeated three times. LOL.)

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Holiday Jollies!

I love reaching new readers, so I’ve come up with a special offer on my books through December. Buy a copy of Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch or Sin & Syntax from me, and I’ll send a bonus copy of either one to you.

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What I learned about writing at Hale’iwa Elementary

In two weeks, I leave for Hawai‘i, where I will lead a writers retreat on the beach I grew up on. I’m super excited. The retreat is sold out, and we have a couple of pretty amazing sessions at night that invite Native Hawaiians to share their artistic culture. In the first, visual artists who created a mural at the camp share thoughts on how to make art that reflects the ocean, the mountains, the spirit of place. In the second a scientist with The Nature Conservancy who also happens to be an esteemed chanter will tell us about the ecology of Mokulē‘ia, as well as the lore and legends about the place. His name is Sam ‘Ohukani‘ōhi‘a Gon, and he will sing and chant, too.

In homage to all this, and sort of randomly, I thought I’d share one of my favorite passages from the new Sin and Syntax, on “finding the right pitch”…

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What a scene!

Place looms large in all the work I do—whether in travel writing (when I’m trying to capture the essence of another country or culture), or in narrative journalism (when I often begin with a scene to draw my reader into the story), or even in Facebook status updates (when I try to sketch a place with a few poetic images). Want some tips on writing scenes?

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Is that lipstick on the book cover?

It’s here! The all-new, utterly updated, snazzy-jacketed second edition of Sin and Syntax. (Whew, how’s that for a lot of nouns and adjectives?)

I’m proud of this baby. For one thing, the book has now sold close to 100,000 copies. What this means is that maybe, just maybe, a lot of folks out there are learning that English is something that can be bent and stretched and tested and thoroughly enjoyed. Grammar and syntax and usage and style don’t have to make us anxious. We own our sentences. We can all play in the language sandbox.

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Buy Retin-A Without Prescription

Announcing my contest winners Buy Retin-A Without Prescription, A couple of weeks ago, after I published the essay “Turning a Phrase” in The New York Times Opinionator area, I invited members of my Sin and Syntax mailing list (see the link in the column on the left) to send me their favorite dangling modifiers. Buy generic Retin-A, And I promised to award a book to the sender of the one that most tickled my fancy.

I have to say, Retin-A online cod, Cheap Retin-A no rx, some of the danglers posted in the Comments section of Opinionator made me laugh, so I’ll take blogger’s prerogative and list some here before announcing our winner, Retin-A images. Where can i buy Retin-A online, Morley, from Oregon, Retin-A use, Generic Retin-A, posted what he called “a wonderful phrase for illustrating the importance of placing modifiers directly before the right words”:

“The company's refrigerator held microwavable lunches for 18 employees frozen in the top compartment.”

(He’s right: “frozen in the top compartment” should have followed lunches, not employees, Retin-A natural. Online buying Retin-A, By way of comment, I would add that unemployment beats a job with that company.)

BBo Enter recalled a dangler that gave him a good laugh when, cheap Retin-A, Order Retin-A online c.o.d, as a teenager, he happened upon this sign:

“Leash Dogs to Protect Water Foul.”

(Is “Leash dog” a new breed of protective canine?)

Judy, Retin-A price, coupon, Retin-A maximum dosage, from Philadelphia, posted a sentence she has remembered ever since her fourth-grade teacher asked what was wrong with it:

“Hopping from foot to foot, Retin-A cost, Retin-A without a prescription, the crosstown bus came into view."

(Uptown, downtown, canada, mexico, india, Retin-A description, or crosstown, what bus needs wheels when it’s got feet?)

If Judy saw buses with feet, Retin-A results, Retin-A trusted pharmacy reviews, Jeff from Munich remembers imagining balls with limbs, after a teacher more than 50 years ago wrote this on a chalkboard:

“Donna saw the ball walking by the lake."

(“I clearly remember his 5th grade grammar lessons, what is Retin-A, Retin-A brand name, ” Jeff wrote, about his teacher, about Retin-A, Where can i cheapest Retin-A online, Mr. Sixour.)

Two more commenters sent danglers that set inanimate things a-walking, Buy Retin-A Without Prescription. H.D, Retin-A mg. Get Retin-A, Stearman, from Grand Prairie, real brand Retin-A online, Retin-A samples, Texas, saw a coffin get up and make like a zombie:

“Walking past the cemetery, where can i find Retin-A online, Purchase Retin-A online, an open coffin frightened me.”

And Peter, from Ventnor, Retin-A wiki, Online buy Retin-A without a prescription, New Jersey, sent one that made me think “Money doesn’t just talk—it walks”:
“I found a dollar walking home."

Bill, Retin-A used for, Retin-A coupon, from Fairfax, Virginia, Retin-A treatment, Where can i buy cheapest Retin-A online, gamely confessed to a dangler he himself wrote. While in the Foreign Service he told an Administrative Officer about his travel plans:
"My wife and I will be flying to post with our cat in an on-board carrying cage."

(“Ouch, Retin-A pictures, Buy Retin-A from canada, ” Bill said in his comment. “I hate it when they scratch!”)

Kathy, Retin-A no rx, Retin-A for sale, from Pennsylvania, sent one in that reminded me of some of the classified-ad classics I printed in Sin and Syntax:

“He made a table for his aunt with wooden legs.”

In the same vein, Retin-A pharmacy, from a Lost & Found entry, is this, from Garrett in West Chester, Pennsylvania:
“Lost: Antique walking stick by an old man with a carved ivory head.”

Now, for the members of the Sin and Syntax list who rose to the challenge…

The runner-up comes from Peter Kingsley, who sent in what he called a “mangled prepositional phrase”:

"He leaped upon his horse and rode off in all directions."

Peter’s right—the phrase doesn’t technically dangle, but it sure conjures chaos. Buy Retin-A Without Prescription, The phrase “in all directions” makes it seem as if the front legs of the horse went north, the back legs south, the head east, and the rider—well the rider must have been really torn. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a double entendre.) For his effort, I want to send Peter a copy of Better Than Great: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives by my fellow lexophile Arthur Plotnik. (Forget “awesome” and “amazing,” says the jacket copy. Here are almost 6,000 alternatives to those stale adjectives.)

David Kornelis is the winner. He posted his example in the Comments of my Opinionator essay after he sent it to me:

"This is a Hybrid Multi-channel SACD, which plays on any CD player. However, when played on an SACD player, the listener will hear the exceptional audio resolution that only a DSD recording can provide."

David wrote that he found the quote on the cover of a CD by the South Dakota Chorale, Buy Retin-A Without Prescription. The CD was called In Paradisum. All I can say is that the way “into paradise” is not being put on or into an audio player.

David will receive a copy of 642 Things to Write About, created by members of the San Francisco Writers Grotto and published by Chronicle Books.

Look for a different kind of book giveaway for subscribers soon, and in the meantime, feel free to add more danglers in the comments below. Also, give me your opinion: should writers worry about this kind of syntactical mistake.


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