Fun grammar guides for English

Former editor, Caroline Taggart, has written a series of books on punctuation, grammar, and spelling, that all contain her trademark humorous approach to the subject. Take a look at some of these books at the library.

Syndetics book coverThe Accidental Apostrophe: Colour and Discover [paperback]
“In Roman times, blocks of text were commonly written just as blocks without even wordspacingnevermindpunctuation to help the reader to interpret them. Bestselling author Caroline Taggart brings her usual gently humorous approach to punctuation, pointing out what really matters and what doesn’t; why using six exclamation marks where one will do is perfectly OK in a text but will lose you marks at school; why hang glider pilots in training really need a hyphen; and how throwing in the odd semicolon will impress your friends. Sometimes opinionated but never dogmatic, she is an ideal guide to the (perceived) minefield that is punctuation.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKicking the bucket at the drop of a hat : the meaning and origins of popular expressions / Caroline Taggart.
“A fascinating collection of the many unusual and vibrant phrases that adorn our language, looking at their origins and meanings. Don’t be down in the dumps if you can’t cut the mustard when asked the definition of certain phrases – this down-to-earth guide is just the ticket. From advertising to the Ancient Greeks, from the military to meteorology, Kicking the Bucket at the Drop of a Hat takes us on a wonderful journey through our language’s history. With more phrases than you can shake a stick at, this collection will bring home the bacon for any Tom, Dick or Harry with a love of language.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMisadventures in the English language / Caroline Taggart.
“This book looks at some of the controversial aspects of English usage–grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation–and tries to assess what matters and what doesn’t. Looking at why it pays to be precise in punctuation–the hackneyed examples of “Let’s eat Grandma” and “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” show how a comma can make all the difference–why tautologies are simply annoying; and how corporate speak can actually mean nothing at all; this book covers the aspects of the English language that could leave you with cause for concern. By turns an explanation of the rules, a rant against gobbledygook and other modern horrors, this book will aid you in avoiding embarrassing cliches and jargon, and help you put your words in the right places.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCollins little book of grammar secrets / Caroline Taggart.
“Let’s admit it, we all struggle with Grammar. There, they’re or their? Who’s or whose? Me or I? Fewer or less? Worry no more, Caroline is here to take the grind out of grammar in easy bite-sized chunks. With insights into hyphens and the dreaded apostrophe, comparatives and superlatives and whether England is singular or plural, she offers clear but light-hearted advice on getting things right when it matters – and relaxing just a little when it doesn’t.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover500 words you should know / Caroline Taggart.
“Ever wanted to ameliorate your atavistic lexicon, engage in a little intellectual badinage or been discombobulated by tricky diction? 500 Words You Should Know has you covered. This book will inspire the reader to use uncommon words in their correct context, utilize the English language to its full potential, and test themselves on the words they think they already know. This veracious cornucopia of knowledge will have you confabulating with the literary cognoscenti in no time.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAs right as rain : the meaning and origins of popular expressions / Caroline Taggart.
“Would you be down in the dumps if, when asked the definition of certain phrases, it was all Greek to you? Let’s not beat about the bush: the English language is littered with linguistic quirks, which, out of context, seem completely peculiar. If you can’t quite cut the mustard, this book will explain how on earth ‘off the cuff’ came to express improvisation, why a ‘gut feeling’ is more intuitive than a brainwave, and who the heck is ‘happy’ Larry. These expressions and countless more become a piece of cake once you’ve read As Right as Rain.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy grammar and I (or should that be ‘me’?) : old-school ways to sharpen your English / Caroline Taggart and J.A. Wines
My Grammar and I offers amusing examples of awful grammar, while steering you in the direction of grammatical greatness. Taking you on a tour of the English language through the minefield of rules and conditions that can catch you out, from dangling modifiers to split infinitives, it highlights the common pitfalls that every English language user faces on a day to day basis. Refreshing everything you should have learnt at school and more, My Grammar and I is informative yet entertaining.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Quick language learning for travel – New Languages books

Are you travelling somewhere? Do you need to learn a few useful phrases in a short amount of time? Wellington City Libraries has a great selection of phrasebooks by the very popular travel publisher Lonely Planet. These short, accessible phrasebooks provide you with quick, useful phrases to use when travelling. Phrasebooks are available for countries where more than one language is spoken, such as China and India, and include many of the languages spoken in each. There are even phrasebooks for the same language, but which is used in different countries, such as Latin American Spanish, Mexican Spanish, and Spanish for Spain! Phrasebooks are free to borrow and can be issued for three weeks.

Syndetics book coverHindi, Urdu & Bengali phrasebook & dictionary / product editor, Jenna Myers.
Lonely Planet’s Hindi, Urdu & Bengali Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Get more from your multi-country trip with easy-to-find phrases for Hindi, Urdu & Bengali. Ask for directions in dynamic Delhi, book a river trip through Bangladeshi countryside, or haggle like a local at street bazaars; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now! Coverage Includes: Hindi, Urdu & Bengali.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKorean phrasebook & dictionary.
Lonely Planet Korean Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful Korean phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Order kim chi like a local, get in-the-know recommendations of the best sights and things to do and buy souvenirs with ease; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now!” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary
Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful Japanese phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Get to know your sushi from your sake, enjoy an elaborate tea ceremony with its centuries’-old conventions, and find your way elaborate transit maps; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now!” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChina phrasebook & dictionary / editors, Francesca Coles [and three others].
Lonely Planet China Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Get more from your multi-country trip with easy-to-find phrases for Mandarin, Cantonese, Chaozhou, Dongbei Hua, Hakka, Hunanese, Shanghainese, Sichuanese, Xi’an, Yunnan Hua, Zhuang, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uighur. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now! Coverage Includes: Mandarin, Cantonese, Chaozhou, Dongbei Hua, Hakka, Hunanese, Shanghainese, Sichuanese, Xi’an, Yunnan Hua, Zhuang, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uighur.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEurope phrasebook & dictionary / editors, Branislava Vladisavljevic, Tracy Whitmey.
Lonely Planet Europe Phrasebook & Language guide is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with relevant travel phrases and vocabulary. Get more from your trip with easy-to-find phrases for Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. With language tools in hand, get to the heart of wherever you go! Coverage Includes: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpanish phrasebook & dictionary.
Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful Spanish phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Enjoy the thrilling conversation with a local over sangria, ask about a tucked-away a tablao flamenco or eat your way through a tapas menu; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now!” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLonely Planet Italian Phrasebook & Dictionary
Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful Italian phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Order an espresso like a local, ask shop keepers about the latest fashions and bargain for fresh produce at the market; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now!” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Learn another language

Did you know that Wellington City Library has kits you can borrow to learn other languages? These kits contain CDs, and sometimes a book, to help you practise and learn languages. They can be borrowed for $3 for 4 weeks. One popular series of kits is the Michel Thomas Method, which begins with “Start”, moves to “Total”, then to “Perfect”, before finishing in some languages with “Masterclass”.

Which course level is right for you?
Start: One hour introduction to a language.
Total: Jump into a language as a beginner and build your understanding from the ground-up.
Perfect: Pave your way to fluency in a language after undertaking the Total course.
Masterclass: Round out your language ability in unique, one-on-one lectures.

Syndetics book coverStart French. Beginner [sound recording]
“Learn 50 essential words at the heart of French and how to put them together to make yourself understood. This 1-hour introduction to the Michel Thomas method will have you speaking real French straight away. There are no books, no pens, and no memorizing – just listen, connect and speak. Use the unique method perfected over fifty years by the celebrated psychologist and linguist Michel Thomas. This method works with your brain, helping you to build up your French in manageable, enjoyable steps by thinking out the answers for yourself. You will join Michel and two students in a live lesson and within the one hour you will be able to construct simple phrases. By the end, you will have the confidence to understand and speak many essentials of French.” (Adapted from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTotal German effortless learning.
“Learn German – Instantly. No books. No writing. No memorizing. Take your time going over each section, step by step, until you have understood and absorbed the material. As Michel Thomas said, “What you understand, you know; and what you know, you don’t forget. You will learn German in “real-time” conditions. There is no need to stop for homework, additional exercises, or vocabulary memorization. Learn German the way you learned your own language. You learned your own language naturally: now you can learn German in the same way. The course helps you to build up your German in manageable steps by enabling you to think the answers out yourself. You will learn through listening and speaking, without the pressure of writing or memorizing.” (Adapted from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPerfect Italian. Intermediate to advanced.
“Take your Italian to the next level with this great continuation to the Total course in the Michel Thomas series. No books. No writing. No memorizing. Join the millions of people worldwide who have learned a new language with the Michel Thomas method. Up to 9 hours of audio material on CD.” (Adapted from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMasterclass Spanish [sound recording].
“In Masterclass Spanish, Michel widens your vocabulary and teaches authentic phrases and expressions in a one-to-one seminar. The two-hour Masterclass enables you to express yourself more fully by teaching idiomatic phrases and language that will give you the edge when it comes to communicating. Masterclass Spanish consolidates everything you’ve learned in the Total and Perfect courses. Or if you’re new to Michel Thomas, this course is ideal for brushing up your language skills. The present, future, conditional and past tenses are covered, and you are taught to think about the ideas that you are trying to communicate, rather than to translate words slavishly. He points out the similarities of the vocabulary in English and Spanish and gives you the tools to guess the words you do not know, or think you do not know.” (Adapted from the Syndetics summary)

Learn Chinese with eBooks and eAudio Books

If you are learning to speak Mandarin or Cantonese, or starting to write Chinese characters, you can find help in these free ebooks.

Overdrive cover Mandarin, by Wei Jin (Audiobook)
“The audio course guides learners through a series of 12 short units. Each unit introduces around 5 new key words or phrases before expanding on the basic vocabulary with practice activities, memory tips and culture and etiquette advice. An accompanying 48-page colour booklet provides full transcripts of the conversations as well as helpful hints to guide the user through their learning experience. Unit 1: Greetings Unit 2: Attracting Attention Unit 3: Exchanging Courtesies Unit 4: Asking Questions Unit 5: Where are you from? Unit 6: Going Places Unit 7: Asking Directions Unit 8: Where can we eat? Unit 9: Getting Transport Unit 10: Ordering a drink Unit 11: Asking for a room Unit 12: All about food!” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Dr. Blair’s Chinese In No Time, by Dr. Robert Blair (Audiobook)
“Does the idea of rote memorization and grammar drills bore you? DR. BLAIR’S Chinese (Mandarin) IN NO TIME will teach you how to speak a new language in no time, at the best prices around.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Traveltalk® Chinese Cantonese, by Penton Overseas, Inc. (Audiobook)
“TravelTalk presents a simplified language survival system for travelers. Includes audio in both English & target language to help ensure that travelers will arrive and survive and enjoy communicating with native speakers.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Mandarin, by HarperCollins Publishers (Audiobook)
“Pick up the essentials of the Mandarin language with this easy-to-use audio introduction. Covering everything from finding your way to talking about yourself, this Collins 40-minute audio can help you learn short and simple phrases quickly by just listening and repeating. This audio lesson is also designed to compliment the Collins Gem Mandarin Phrasebook for an indispensable language guide.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Essential Chinese, by Philip Yungkin Lee (eBook)
“A concise Mandarin Chinese phrase book and guide to Chinese language, Essential Chinese contains basic vocabulary necessary for communicating in Mandarin Chinese.” (Abridged from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Instant Chinese, by Boyé Lafayette De Mente (eBook)
“It’s amazing how 100 key words and phrases provide instant communication!D o you want to speak simple Mandarin Chinese but are too busy to study it? Are you visiting China for a short time and want a Mandarin phrase book to help you communicate? If so, this is the book for you. It includes all the essential content necessary to speak basic Mandarin. The idea of Instant Chinese is simple—learn 100 words and phrases and say 1,000 things… A brief guide to pronunciation allows the user to say the phrases correctly.” (Abridged Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover My First Book of Chinese Words, by Faye-Lynn Wu (eBook)
“”Z is for zàijiàn. “Goodbye!” we say—more good times together when we meet another day.” My First Book of Chinese Words introduces Chinese language to preschool children in a gentle, playful way. The ABC structure provides a familiar framework that encourages fun and easy learning. The everyday words presented in this book include many that have special significance in Chinese culture. Each word is presented in Chinese characters (both Simplified and Traditional) as well as in Romanized form (Pinyin). Cultural and linguistic notes enhance the learning experience. And kids will love the wonderful Chinese family, beautifully illustrated in gentle colours, who will take them from page to page!” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Chinese Folklore Tales, by J. Macgowan (eBook)
“A fantastic collection of eleven traditional folklore tales from ancient China.” (Overdrive description)