Some of you might be wondering by now where the heck I come up with these topics and entries. Some of it’s pretty obvious, but some …???

Well, I do declare these are mostly coming off the top of my head as I tackle the topic at hand. However, I will also confess to having several favorite sources I consult (whether for clarification or just amusement), when I’m pondering what to address next in these blog-entries.

Someone, in one of the discussions, either on this blog or on a Facebook page, mentioned Edwin Newman and his wonderful book, “Strictly Speaking: Will America be the Death of English?” I have to admit I never got around to reading that one, but I have read or heard some of the essays that ended up within its pages, back when Ed was a regular TV commentator. Then there is of course that little book, “Elements of Style” by the oddly named pair of Strunk and White, which just celebrated its 94th year of existence.

There are also three other writer/grammarians who’ve influenced me a lot, and whose work I highly recommend (whether you want an English lesson or a belly-laugh): Richard Lederer, Patricia T. O’Conner and Willard Espy.

Mr. Lederer is an American author, speaker, and teacher best known for his books on word play and the English language and his use of oxymorons. His almost endless list of books includes explorations of language (Crazy English, Amazing Words, Word Wizard, A Man of My Words, etc.); bloopers (Anguished English, More Anguished English, Fractured English, The Bride of Anguished English, The Revenge of Anguished English); and puns (Get Thee to a Punnery, The Cunning Linguist, The Ants are my Friends, Puns Spooken Here, etc.). Just the book-titles can bring a chuckle to us “verbivores” (which is also the name of his website)! In addition, he’s dabbled in trivia, an appreciation of teachers and … cats and dogs. Check out his site for more details, as well as links to all the books.

Since way back when, Lederer has had a syndicated column home-based out of his hometown paper, the San Diego Union Tribune.  I first encountered him in this column, in the Boston Globe, with one particular rendition that presented a “spelling test” disguised as a small-town newspaper entry, rounding up the week’s news around the community. There were FIFTY errors—from grammar to syntax to usage to actual spelling issues (more often than not, it was using the wrong word that sounded the same—and yes, I will be addressing those dreaded “homophones” in this space pretty soon!)

Ms. O’Conner, meanwhile, is the author of five books about the English language. A former editor at the New York Times Book Review, she now appears monthly on WNYC as the language maven for the Leonard Lopate Show. She also co-runs a website, Grammarphobia, which addresses the obvious issues of the English language. Meanwhile, she’s written some informative-yet-hilarious books on the English language, including my personal favorites, “Woe Is I” and “Words Fail Me.” Both books feature a series of essays (something like the ones in this blog?), each focusing on a different aspect of “our native language” here in these Untied States. Another book I have not yet read is intriguing just by its title, “Origins of the Specious.” (Again, more info is available at her website.)

Willard Espy is no longer on this earthly plane, having passed in 1999. While he was here, though, he left a real mark on the pages, as a U.S.-based editor, philologist, writer, and poet. He is particularly remembered for his anthology of light verse and word play, “An Almanac of Words at Play,” and its two sequels, “Another Almanac of Words at Play” and “The Game of Words.” A compendium of Espydom can be found at the website maintained in his honor, the Willard R. Espy Literary Foundation.

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