A WORLD WITHOUT "WHOM" by Emmy J.  Favilla


The Essential Guide to Language in the Buzzfeed Age
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An irreverent grammar guru advises, “follow your heart.”

Favilla, copy chief of the digital news site BuzzFeed and author of its style manual, makes her literary debut in “a book about feelings, mostly—not about rules.” Language is fluid, she rightly notes, and new venues—Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, email, texts, blogs—have dramatically changed the way people communicate. Take the comma splice, which is back, writes the author, “because sometimes a pause between the two clauses…just isn’t what you’re going for; forgoing punctuation to indicate a breath in between may effect, for instance, an air of exasperation or urgency.” Still, Favilla advises that before deliberately creating a comma splice—or flouting any grammatical convention—the writer should “take the temperature of a room.” Much of the author’s advice has to do with BuzzFeed’s style preferences, such as capitalization, formatting numbers, the use of the subjunctive (“as an intrinsically cynical person,” she writes, “I am a fan of the subjunctive mood”), the choice between “who” and “that,” and the correct use of “whom.” Some readers may not need her advice about creating pithy headlines or avoiding sexist, racist, or otherwise exclusionary language in publications, but for anyone perplexed by the plethora of acronyms and abbreviations, Favilla offers several appendices: the BuzzFeed Style Guide Word List (from A-list to Ziploc); the BuzzFeed UK Style Guide Word List (from aeroplane to yoghurt); Terms You Should Know (BRB: be right back; TL;DR: too long; didn’t read; and the useful IRL: in real life). She also imparts advice about editing for an international audience. Quizzes, illustrations, and reproductions of sometimes-whimsical chats between Favilla and her colleagues appear throughout. For controversial grammar, spelling, or usage topics, she often includes the results of BuzzFeed reader polls—e.g., is it roller coaster or rollercoaster? How do you make a possessive for proper names ending in S? What about the use of literally instead of figuratively?

A lighthearted take on communicating in the digital age.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-63286-757-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2017


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