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Ask a Book Question: The 28th in a Series (The Spanish Grammarian)

By posted at 8:54 pm on October 4, 2004 0

My good and old friend Emre writes in with this somewhat obscure question that was nonetheless enjoyable to research.

Have you read anything by Alex Grijelmo, and would you by any chance know of his La Seduccion de las Palabras and if it is translated to English yet?

I have not read anything by Alex Grijelmo, and, in fact, I had not even heard of him until I received this email. But a little research revealed that he is the editor of El Pais, one of Spain’s more popular newspapers. In fact, I remember seeing it all over Barcelona when I was there in 2003. Not only is Grijelmo an editor, he is also the author of El Pais’ style guide. Now that I am a journalism student, I have quickly become acquainted with the notion of the “style guide.” Such guides are essential for keeping the grammar, punctuation and usage consistent in a given publication, and many publications have their own in house versions. The New York Times has one, but the most popular is the AP Style Guide (I’m pretty much required to keep this one on my person at all times these days). But Grijelmo isn’t just a grammar nut. He has also written books about language that go beyond the rules and regulations. For example, the title of the book you mention can be loosely translated as The Seduction of Words, and it appears as though Grijelmo, aside from being a well-known journalist, is something of a Spanish William Safire; that is, a writer who discusses language not just codifies it. Sadly, none of his books have been translated into English, and since his books seem to be about the Spanish language itself, it would seem unlikely that they could successfully be translated into English. If anyone else out there knows anything about Grijelmo, please comment, for Emre’s sake!

(Speaking of Safire, have a look at his op-ed about the government’s no-holds-barred hunt for unnamed sources.)





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