Quote of the Month:
"Students tend to insert commas at places where they would pause in speaking the sentence. This has about the same reliability as the rhythm method for birth control." — Ben Yagoda, How Not to Write Bad
CHARLIE'S NEXT BOOKS
. . . are in the works!
I'm now under contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) — the publisher of several of my previous books: Tooth and Nail; Test of Time; What in the Word? and The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations — to write a reference book called How to Tell Fate from Destiny, and Other Skillful Distinctions, to be published in the fall of 2018.
My personal project, The Enthusiasms of Charles Harrington Elster, will be published in two volumes and will feature the language maven as you've never read him before. For more information on both these projects, see "Elster Update" on the Comments page.
In the Articles section in the sidebar on the right I've added an essay called "The Right to Say No," which will appear in the first volume of Enthusiasms. I wrote it in 1987 about an experience I had in middle school in the 1960s, but its topic — refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance — is suddenly relevant again now that the football player Colin Kaepernick created a national stir by exercising his First Amendment rights and sitting during the national anthem before games. (Other athletes have since joined him, although Kaepernick is now out of a job.) I applaud his courageous protest, and I urge you to read my essay for an explanation.
CHARLIE IS ON TWITTER
Welcome, Word Lovers!
You have landed at the website of writer, radio commentator, and lexicomane Charles Harrington Elster, aka the Grandiloquent Gumshoe. (If you're wondering what a lexicomane is, it's a lover of dictionaries.)
Bring up the subject of language and I'll talk your ear off. Hand me a dictionary and I'm lost in its pages for a week. Ask me to find an obscure word and I won't sleep until I track it down. I am an unrepentant, irremediable word nerd and proud of it, for language is the most pleasant obsession I know.
Day and night, weekday and weekend, I am drawn to the luminescent screen of my computer, there to wrestle with strand upon strand of sticky syntax. If you want to find me, listen for a bunched clamor of keystrokes. Look for a forehead furrowed from straining over where to place a comma or delete a word. Look for eyes gone blank from focusing too long on the cobwebs quivering in the corner of the ceiling. Look for a man seduced by the sound of syllables and caught in the web of words.
If you are a fellow woolgatherer in the world of words, or simply an inquisitive visitor searching for verbal entertainment or enlightenment, I invite you to explore my website and learn more about my work.
When I tell people I'm a writer and they ask what I write, my stock answer is, "I write about the English language for a general audience." In other words, I don't write textbooks and I don't write academic tomes. I write popular reference books for people who want to learn more words or learn more about words.
For many years I have also been a radio commentator, and for five and a half years I cohosted a weekly public radio talk show on language called A Way with Words. I am also a voice talent, with more than 25 years experience narrating audio programs and books.
Here is an audio excerpt from the introduction to Word Workout, my eleventh book, published by St. Martin's Griffin. The audiobook, narrated by me, is available from Macmillan Audio.
Word Workout Intro (5.1MB)
At the top of this page, click on Biography to find out more about me. Click on Writings to learn more about my books and articles, and also to read my list of The Latest Outrageous Accidents of Style. Click on Events for information on my book signings, speaking events, and radio interviews. And click on Blog to take a word quiz and read my ravings and musings about language, writing, and the writer's life.
You're also welcome to share your thoughts or post a question about language on my Comments page. If you would like to contact me directly and privately, click on WRITE TO CHARLIE in the "Quick Links" sidebar to the right.
Good words to you!
Entire contents of this website Copyright © 2003-2017 by Charles Harrington Elster.
All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.
Click on WRITE TO CHARLIE in the sidebar on the right to request permission to reproduce or quote.