Monday, March 02, 2009

Podcast Review -- Grammar Girl

When people hear that one of my favorite podcasts is all about grammar, I usually get odd looks. Granted, some of that puzzlement is about just the concept of podcasting itself (*sigh*). But mostly folks find it hard to understand that I would voluntarily listen to a show about such a boring subject.

Well, like the concept of podcasting itself, the appeal of something called "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" might seem puzzling to the neophyte. But it makes perfect sense to those that have experienced it. But (also like podcasting) the best way to understand Grammar Girl's appeal is to simply listen to the program. But if you need some reasons to check it out, here goes:

Grammar Girl is actually Mignon Fogerty, a professional technical writer. Her skill at explaining complex concepts in simple, everyday terms came to the fore with the Grammar Girl podcast. Fogerty has a warm, inviting voice, that always seem to carry a hint of smile. And she's really into the grammar tips she dispenses, and that enthusiasm is infectious.

Plus, Fogerty is scrupulous in her research. In answering a grammar question, she'll often cite several different authoritative sources, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style, and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage -- especially if there's conflicting opinions on what's standard and what isn't.

But what really makes the program appealing is its inviting practicality. Fogerty's not interested in scolding those breaking the grammar rules. Her goal is to help people understand how grammar works, so they can communicate more effectivel.

The show is tightly scripted, and moves along at a good pace. There's a healthy dose of humor, and Fogerty has a knack for creating mnemonic devices to help the listener remember the concepts she presents.

And if you think I'm odd for enjoying this podcast, know this -- within the first four months of release, Grammar Girl had over a million listeners. Mignon Fogerty's built her single podcast into a thriving network of how-to podcasts (Quick and Dirty Tips), all with the same general character -- informal, friendly, and full of rock-solid information and advice. Plus, Fogerty's book, "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing," shot to the top of the New York Times' bestseller's list.

Considering the size of her audience, and the success of her program and books, maybe when I talk with people who don't listen to Grammar Girl, I ought to be giving them odd looks!

Affect vs. Effect: The aardvark was affected by the arrow. The effect was eye-popping. I never mixed up those two words since hearing that tip. Thanks, Grammar Girl!

And remember: you don't need an iPod to enjoy a podcast -- just a computer.

- Ralph

Day 294 of the WJMA Web Watch.


  1. Grammar Girl has also been reviewed on the podcast review blog 'Anne is a man!'. This and 241 more podcasts.

  2. Thanks for sending the link -- looks like you started reviewing podcasts for the same reason I did. Too many people were asking what I was listening to and why. I'll be checking out your site on a regular basis!

    - Ralph