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Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins: The Careful Writer's Guide to the Taboos, Bugbears, and Outmoded Rules of English Usage [Paperback]

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Item description for Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins: The Careful Writer's Guide to the Taboos, Bugbears, and Outmoded Rules of English Usage by Theodore M. Bernstein...

The old adage, rules are made to be broken has never been as well defended as in MISS THISTLEBOTTOM'S HOBGOBLINS. Throughout the book, Bernstein asserts that we have been indoctrinated with English usage rules that lack flexibility and evoke fear, confusion and frustration in writers. There are times when splitting an infinitive or ending a sentence with a preposition makes sense. Through a series of one-sided correspondences with Bertha Thistlebottom, an archetypal grade school English teacher, Bernstein addresses the community of rule mongering sticklers who have tried to squeeze the English language into a set of inflexible rules and outmoded definitions that only serve to stifle its growth and paralyze writers. In addition to his letters to Miss Thistlebottom, there are scores of entries where Bernstein debunks the rules of yesteryear with wit and intelligence and illustrates how to write effectively--without the worry of hobgoblins.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   264
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.9" Width: 6.4" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 25, 2006
Publisher   Centro Books
ISBN  1933572000  
ISBN13  9781933572000  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Reference > Encyclopedias > General
2Books > Subjects > Reference > General
3Books > Subjects > Reference > Words & Language > Grammar
4Books > Subjects > Reference > Writing > General
5Books > Subjects > Reference > Writing > Writing Skills

Reviews - What do customers think about Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins: The Careful Writer's Guide to the Taboos, Bugbears, and Outmoded Rules of English Usage?

This book never grows old  Aug 29, 2007
I've been a fan of Miss Thistlebottom (and Mr. Bernstein) since 1972. I've given this book as a gift a half-dozen times over the years. I still reach for it every so often to settle a usage question. It is both invaluable, irrepressibly witty, and seemingly ageless. Before writing this review, I went back into the well-thumbed pages of this book to make sure it had not been left in the wake of the three and a half decades since it was written. It stands as relevant as ever. A must-have for anyone who relishes the English language and takes joy in its quirks.
Excellent resource for teachers of English  Oct 23, 2006
I've taught freshman composition in colleges and universities from Arizona to the Bronx for over 20 years, and this book is so much fun compared to the usual stuff you have to choose from. Bernstein was practically a comedian compared to the stiffs who write usage books these days -- eats shoots and leaves notwithstanding.

I recommend this book as a resource in any writing classroom -- it answers the kinds of questions students actually ask about language use. They don't want to know about freewriting and the rhetorical situation. They want to know how to use the language properly and they'd like to learn it from a writer who uses humor -- is this too much to ask? Bernstein didn't think so in 1971.

On the mark as usual  Jan 26, 2006
One by one, Bernstein goes through the rules given to many people "in Eighth Grade" and demolishes them: "Never split an nfinitive," "Never end a sentence with a preposition," and so on. He also lists a great many words and phrases and disucsses their points of usage. His categories are "Witchcraft in Words," "Syntax Scarecrows," "Imps of Idioms," and "Spooks of Style." He discusses each case with both light humour precision of meaning.

Theodore M. Bernstein not only reviews shibboleths of English usage but also includes a response from his fictional Grade 8 teacher, Miss Thistlebottom, writing more in sorrow than in anger.

The encyclopedic "The Careful Writer" is my favourite of Bernstein's books, but this one is certainly worth reading.
Useful and Funny  Aug 16, 2004
In Mrs. Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins, the author explores common misconceptions people have about English grammar rules. The title is a metaphor for all the English teachers who have taught their students that it is wrong to split an infinitive or end a sentence with a preposition. The author explores such myths in detail and explains how they came to be as well as why they are incorrect. The book is well-written, witty and informative.

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