Everything You Know About English Is Wrong, by Bill Brohaugh
Home Sample entries for Everything You Know About English Is Wrong Everything You Know About English Is Wrong--Table of Contents Place an order for Everything You Know About English Is Wrong About author Bill Brohaugh Contact author Bill Brohaugh Read what Bill Brohaugh refuses to refer to as a blog
Praise for Everything You Know About English Is Wrong
Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English and other popular language books, says: "If you love language and the unvarnished truth, you'll love Everything You Know About English Is Wrong. You'll have fun because his lively, comedic, skeptical voice will speak to you from the pages of his word-bethumped book."

FeatureBook.com writes: "The book provides a good counterpoint to Lynne Trussís anxiety-inducing Eats, Shoots & Leaves and will be enjoyed by everyone who canít quite admit to being amused by William Safire because they canít get past his politics. In other words, Brohaugh is funner."

Other Books by Bill Brohaugh
Sample Entries:

Everything You Know About English Is Wrong is about the BS often associated with grammar "rules," word "origins," famous "real" quotes, and other common "knowledge" you can put into "quote marks." This sample chats about verbing, and this fine word:

Impact, as Verb

Using impact as a verb is not an abomination. It is a celebration.

Perhaps the greatest impact that the word impact has had on English-speakers is its role as a lightning rod for those who believe that the verbing of nouns is some sort of evil. For their rationale, we might turn to the great philosophers, 17th-Century Thomas Hobbes and 16th-Century John Calvin, or even to the greater philosophers, Calvin & Hobbes. In the sorely-missed comic strip of that name, young Calvin muses to his stuffed-tiger toy Hobbes, "Verbing weirds language."

How delicious is the verbing of an adjective by young Calvin? Perhaps even more delicious than Frank Clune writing in Roaming round Darling (1936), "The Poet accused me of verbing a noun, but I soon fixed him. I threatened to noun a verb."

The fact of the matter is that words in English, to use a baseball analogy, are the perfect utility players. They can play most if not all positions, and fill in with talents that other words might lack. The neologistic process of function-conversion is integral to the history, flexibility and pure power of English.

Still, converting words from their original state generates continual consternation, and in this case, to impact has become the poster child of a supposedly rapidly deteriorating language.

Well, if weíre going to play the reactionary nothing-must-change game, letís set our sights on another less obvious target: The word impact. But this time, letís assail it as a noun synonymous with effect. For one, if you are to argue that the noun impact is not allowed to change, then you are limited to its first meaning, "collision," in use by the late 1700s. Two things can possibly collide without affecting each other. The connotation of "effect" comes a bit later, by the early 1800s. And if we stick with the idea that the first form of the word should not change, then . . . well, the verb came first. Granted, not in the meaning we use it in today: to impact by the early 1600s was to "pack in," kind of like what I do with my numerous garbage bags into my one garbage can every Tuesday evening. The lighting-rod meaning was first recorded in 1935.

Now, specific to current use of impact as a verb, I myself shall play lightning rod, and hold my metal pen high above me while proclaiming: "Not only is impact perfectly acceptable in verb usage, it is perfect in verb usage."

Why? For one, to impact has no precise synonym. Its unique connotation carries the seemingly self-contradictory virtues of nuance and power that its oft-nominated replacement, affect, does not. A 5-cent-a-gallon hike in gas prices affects you. A dollar-a-gallon hike in gas prices impacts you. But the other beauty of the word is its marriage of form and content. The price hike will immmmmmmm-PACT! you. Itís like a bomb dropping. You hear the silence, then the hum, and then the plosives. To impact exhibits near onomatopoeic poetry.

And it does so while serving both function and language convention. People donít create or convert words just to irritate the persnickitors (well, people other than me, anyway)—they do it because the words do work that no other words do. Verbing is not bad English. To impact is not a bad infinitive.

In fact, you might say that converting impact into a verb is a matter of Englishing the word impact. And if you can verb a word like English (first recorded use, the í80s—the 1380s, that is), why canít you verb other words?

So, persnickitors, does my bold claim affect your sensibilities? Or does it impact them?

More samples



Website and content copyright © 2014 by William Brohaugh. All Rights Reserved.