How To Say It and Write It Correctly, Now
by Dr. Santo J. Aurelio
(Synergy Books, Austin, TX, 2nd Edition, 2004)
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Review by Patricia Fry
For several months we’ve been offering a choice of free books to new and renewing members. One of the books is my "Successful Writer’s Handbook." The other is SPAWN member, Stephen Dolainsky’s "Grammar Traps." It’s the popularity of Stephen’s book that prompted me to choose a grammar reference to review this month.
The book, "How To Say It and Write It Correctly, Now" both impresses and puzzles me. For one thing, the review copy the publisher sent me is flawed. The first 25 pages or so of the book are repeated in the back of the book. I guess I can’t blame the publisher for that—I think we’ve all received less than perfect copies from our publisher or printer. I can only assume that this is a fluke. What does bother me, though, are what I perceive as errors in Dr. Aurelio’s information. He says to insert two spaces after a period, question mark, colon, etc. when all of the latest style books I have in my office ("The Chicago Manual of Style" and "The Associated Press Stylebook") state that the rule is now one space after a period. I was taught the one-space rule about seven years ago and have been teaching it to my clients, students and readers ever since. As I understand it, using a word processor is closer to typesetting than typewriting and typesetters have always used one space at the end of a sentence. So if you are using a computer, please—one space after a period. If you are still typing on an old monospaced typewriter, however, follow Dr. Aurelio’s suggestion and use two spaces.
It is obvious that Dr. Aurelio knows volumes more than I do about grammar and punctuation, so I will cease nitpicking. The book has 425 pages of practical grammar, punctuation and spelling rules. He lists medical terms, homonyms and even provides a layperson’s legal dictionary. Probably one of the most interesting sections of the book is where the author shares the origin of words and phrases. Have you ever wondered where the term bellhop came from? According to this author, it is composed from bell and hop. A bellhop’s job is to hop up and report to the front desk each time the manager rings the bell. Other words he explains are honeymoon, hooligan, red letter day, to pull strings, and Zip code. Did you know that ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan?
Dr. Aurelio reminds readers how to properly use various words such as fame and notoriety; emigrant and immigrant; either, neither and nor. What about all ready and already—and one of my personal favorites, anxious and eager?
He provides 125 pages of homonyms and psuedohomonyms. Acclamation and acclimation, for example, ad and add and adapt, adept and adopt.
Do you have trouble spelling certain words? Dr. Aurelio lists 366 frequently misspelled words. Here are some that many Americans struggle with: apropos, cemetery, beleaguered, maintenance and quandary. I had trouble with the word baccalaureate recently.
While this is certainly not a fascinating read—the author does nothing to make it entertaining—it is a useful straight-forward reference book for any writer or speaker who needs frequent or occasional help coming up with the right word and using it correctly.
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–Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer and the author of 25 books. Read her latest book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book, http://www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html.
Visit her writing/publishing blog often at http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.