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Publisher's Summary

Who eats shoots and leaves? A panda? Or a gunman at a restaurant? The answer to this all depends on - you guessed it - grammar. In the third part of his extraordinary Way with Words series, Professor Drout continues to explore humanity's intimate association with language, here delving into the finer points of English grammar. Since others judge you by the way you speak, the intricacies of grammar, in fact, should not be relegated to the realm of fussy "guardians of the language," but are rather essential clues all can employ to communicate more exactly. In such a light, this course forms an invaluable guide for everyone from all fields of interest.
©2008 Michael D.C. Drout; (P)2008 Recorded Books

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Anyone who wishes to enhance his or her understanding of English will be rewarded by hearing or reading Dr. Drout’s discourse on grammar. Anyone who eschews excessive intellectual egotism will be annoyed by the professor’s pedantic personalization of purely conventional concepts that have a long linguistic history. The phrase that most markedly illustrates the grammarian’s self-aggrandizement is the “Drout Way”. At the risk of oversimplifying a more encompassing ideological exposition, the “Drout Way” adumbrates the following ideas: (I) Clues to the complexity (and confusion) of the English language are to be sought in its convoluted history (II) Understanding this circuitous history can illuminate otherwise unintelligible aspects of the language (III) An ideal mastery of English necessitates a knowledgeable balance between adherence to invariant rules (which, in the main, must be memorized) and innovative attempts to ensure clarity of communication above all else and (IV) Overzealous attention to erroneous grammar on the part of others (especially when accompanied by crude correction) is odious and often ill-informed. It would be an amusing exercise to enumerate each utterance of the “Drout Way” in the author’s self-narrated audiobook. Interestingly, it is not until the final few minutes that the distinguished linguist-philologist acknowledges the fact that the main thrust of the “Drout Way” was foreshadowed by the steadfast Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. The Emperor, Drout correctly relates, credited his teacher, Grammaticus, with instructing him in the appropriate way of conceptualizing good grammar and correcting its misuse in others by ensuring one’s own grammatical correctitude—that is, by being a model of grammatical mastery.

Dr. Drout is a superb scholar. His book is informative, funny, and forthright. He is young and already exceptionally accomplished as an academic. This is particularly encouraging to an ambivalent, aspiring academic such as myself. Further, his book is about much more than grammar; it is about the human psyche and the centrality of language thereto. Additional insight into the nature of his own mind might make Dr. Drout more aware of the ostensible imperfections in his psyche or, stated more sympathetically, the aesthetic imperfections in his rhetorical style. Ironically, I believe our good professor has produced a book on the principles of persuasive rhetoric. If so, I intend, to acquire it and opine on its merits from the privileged perspective of a discerning dilettante. Incidentally, it is difficult to forswear the speculative supposition that the master grammarian may be mourning the missed opportunity to make the mysterious matron who occasioned the coinage of the “red panda” into Mrs. Drout. Far be it of me, a professedly puritanical ascetic, to stoke the embers of a salacious scandal, especially in a stately discussion of grammar. It was, however, Dr. Drout’s doing and he’ll have to answer to the actual Mrs. Drout (and perhaps the potential or would-be Mrs. Drout). But that is another matter....

Dr. Nun Sava-Siva Amen-Ra

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