Bad language

Who wants to read a book about grammar and punctuation? Thought not. It is likely, if you had such a book, it would be purely for reference purposes – your job, your studies but, ultimately, a purely functional item.

Anyway, back to the question: who wants to read a book about grammar and punctuation? Would you be interested if it was called ‘F*cking Apostrophes’? Or how about ‘How to swear’? Reader, I have both these f*cking books!

As a word nerd with an add-on passion for punctuation, I was a happy giver and receiver of these books for Christmas 2017, an amusing shock-in-the-stocking type thing. Entertaining as they are, it struck me how much the use of taboo language acts as an aid to learning.

Stephen Wildish’s How to Swear takes seven key swear words, provides their etymology, as well as examples of use when breaking down the phrasing into parts of speech. It’s not just words either; there’s pleasing use of Venn diagrams, tables and diagrams, and useful ‘how to’ sweary flow charts.

It’s important to get the detail right, so Mr Wildish has included a handy guide on the correct order of adjectives in insults (size and age come before shape and colour – ‘ stupid, little, green … ‘, rather than ‘green, little, stupid’, for example).

As it turns out, ‘f*ck’ is one of the English language’s most versatile words, employed as noun, verb (transitive and instransitive), adjective, adverb, intensifier, imperative, interjection, conjunction and, appropriately, a ‘grammatical ejaculation’. It’s amazing how much easier grammar appears to become when you see what the ‘offending’ word is doing in a sentence.

An amusing and useful book – always a great device to use humour as a learning tool, as well as the smug glow of knowing when you’re using an expletive as a reinforcing adverb as opposed to a plain old adjective.

F*cking Apostrophes by Simon Griffin is a reinforcer of rules, essentially adding the aforementioned ‘f’ word in front of ‘apostrophe’ whenever it appears (quite a lot, as it happens).  I like this book – as well as providing a bit of background history, Griffin sorts out when to use apostrophes with plenty of examples.

We know that sex sells. I’m not convinced that also applies to grammar and punctuation, however, maybe swearing adds something along the way as it really aids engagement.

Perfect for the grammar police officer in your life, regrettably, I doubt these will also feature on an approved reading list for any of the key stages of the curriculum, which is a real, f*cking shame.



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