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Town Hall Seattle: Arts & Culture Series

Town Hall’s Arts & Culture series elevates the voices of local artists while bringing world-renowned cultural icons to Seattle audiences. The series celebrates music, photography, sculpture, philosophy, heritage, and traditions around the world that enrich our lives.

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Oct 4, 2022

Do you have a strong opinion about things like the Oxford comma, splitting infinitives, or whether to use punctuation in a text message? Well, you’re not alone. When Ellen Jovin set up her first Grammar Table outside her Manhattan apartment building and invited people to ask her questions, it took only around thirty seconds for the first visitor to arrive. Dozens more followed with their own grammatical inquiries and Grammar Table became an instant hit. Word of its success spread — attracting the attention of outlets like the New York Times, NPR, and CBS National News.

Jovin decided to take it on the road, traveling across the United States to answer questions from people from all walks of life: writers, lawyers, editors, businesspeople, students, bickering couples, and anyone else who uses words. These experiences led to her latest work, Rebel With a Clause: Tales and Tips from a Roving Grammarian.

Jovin, a self-proclaimed “grammar nerd” is no stranger to writing, having penned three other books that help people with mastery of the English language and its nuances. Rebel, however, is not just another guide to polishing our prose or satisfying our age-old linguistic curiosities or longstanding phobia of semicolons. It is punctuated with linguistic debates from tiny towns to the nation’s largest cities, and a testament to the social power that grammar wields to both delight and divide us.

Even the most ardent of logophiles will learn something in this talk that is sure to entertain as well as enlighten.

Ellen Jovin is a cofounder of Syntaxis, a communication skills training consultancy, and is the author of three other books on language. She is also the creator of a traveling pop-up grammar advice stand called the Grammar Table, whose adventures serve as the basis of this book. Ellen has a B.A. from Harvard College in German studies and an M.A. from UCLA in comparative literature, and has studied twenty-five languages for fun. She lives with her husband, Brandt Johnson, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.