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Star Trek nerds are fierce (Vulcan ears, anyone?) Grammar nerds are fiercer! Time for intersellar grammar war. The Venn diagram of grammar nerds and Star Trek nerds actually overlaps pretty heavily but no one in that wormhole can agree: Should the the franchise's new movie, Star Trek Into Darkness have a colon and a lower case "into"? Get me my phaser! Let's take a look at the rich Star Trek franchise history and check out those subtitles.

 

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We've got a striking juxtaposition this week, between M. Keith Chen's Yale paper on how the strong future tense of English makes the future seem far away and us less prepared for it, and John Brockman's fascinating compilation of essays This Will Make You Smarter. Does English syntax leave us fat, broke, and smoking, as Vice's Motherboard article on Chen puts it? We better read Brockman!

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I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did, a new title from lawyer Lori Andrews, looks at what we give away when we cavort in social media cyberspace--mainly, privacy. The title is made of two independent clauses joined with a conjunction, and some grammar fiends would insist on a comma after the "ARE." Why do commas matter? And what does this have to do with baby seals?

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Bruce Springsteen's hotly awaited new single hit the internet January 19. His (oft-obsessive) fans quickly analyzed the lyrics, seeking even the most minute shades of meaning--no literary critic could be more attentive, it seems, than Bruce's legion of fans. And they found . . . a big goof? What did Bruce get wrong--or right? And what's the deal with calvary and cavalry, anyway?

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Downton Abbey, the latest class-based British drama from Masterpiece Theatre to seize American Anglophiles by the throat, is just entering its second season. A spectacular illustrated book on the world of the series reveals secret history, production details, and fresh character insights and backgrounds, but what about the language? What is it that makes British English so delicious--and foreign--to American ears?

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Two adverbs title Diane Keaton's memoir, looking to the past and present. Then Again is lovely, wry, self-effacing, devoted, raw in parts and careful in others. As much about her mother Dorothy's life and Keaton's love for her as about Keaton, this chronicle looks at what it was like then as Keaton was growing up, and what happened then and again in her life as an adult: relationships with powerful men and the recreation of a family. Adverbs! How appropriately they place us in time and space.

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Christopher Hitchens, an acerbic wit and keen commentator on religion, society, and politics, died Thursday Dec 14. This avowed atheist's books, especially his recent memoir, Hitch-22, can be clever holiday gifts for those who appreciate expert and idiosyncratic prose in the service of iconclasm. R. Crumb, illustrator of the drug-drenched 60s and 70s, is celebrated in a new book collecting his exuberant album covers and more; it makes a lovely present for fans of psychedelic graphics. What's the link? Both men enjoyed a lavish use of their respective languages, visual and verbal. 

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From e.g. and i.e. to metonymy and synecdoche, Greek and Latin have a tenacious hold on our language. Ever-evolving English capaciously welcomes "r u txting?" messages, e-books, and FedEx as a verb, but both the classics and old English endure at its roots. Let's take a look at two new books that demonstrate how the toga-clad still captures our attention and speaks across the centuries.

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A recent buzzfeed.com link on Obscure Punctuation Marks got a lot of play. A bunch of people sent it to me! I was delighted to see a very "legalese" mark in there, peculiar to the profession of the law--punctuation isn't just for grammar geeks, after all.

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Love a good "Great Man" biography? This season you need the "Great Woman" biography everybody's praising: Robert Massie's Catherine the Great. And why was she so great? Read the book and you'll find out; read this blog and learn what phrases such as "the Great" are called and why.

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About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.

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