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Dept. of I before E, etc., etc.

Grammar: It's a Mystery, It Is
Well, the mystery is actually why schools stopped teaching grammar in any way that would actually stick, and why it's the smallest words that seem to give the highest number of brain cramps to otherwise literate people.

Ah, welladay, I can do nothing about it except (as is my wont) whinge and snigger.

Oh, and pass on this wonderful video. (I found it over at Huffpost, but I include hit here because I can. It's British, but the lesson's universal. Really it is.)


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 1st, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
Perhaps my favorite line in "Eats, Shoots and Leaves," [Pardon quotation marks in the absence of available italics.] was the following: "Dicks in tray." What was meant, of course, was "Dick's in-tray." One assumes his desk had an out-tray as well. As the author said, "Try not to think about it." Snerkle snerkle!
Sep. 2nd, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
I was going to mention "Eats, Shoots and Leaves". That book needs to be assigned in schools. It really, really does.
Sep. 2nd, 2010 03:38 am (UTC)
Well, something that has to assigned to the schools.

*iz grumpy old lady*
Sep. 2nd, 2010 09:33 am (UTC)
The book is a joy. And as to "The Apostrophe Song" being British, I assume, based on punctuation, you are too: your period above is outside the closing quotation mark. Makes sense to me. Why we in the states put the bugger inside the closed quote escapes me, but so it is. But the fun isn't just punctuation. My favorite road-side billboard was in the vast nothingness of eastern Montana advertising not a podiatrist, but an auto repair business: Thompson's Toe Service. Little pleasures everywhere!
Sep. 2nd, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
Heh. I know you were referenceing clocketpatch but it struck a chord with me as well. I've had to become grammatically bilingual over the years. I grew up in Canada, with largely British grammar rules drummed into my head, and then had to deal with Canadian Press usage rules, which were much different things. (I won't call newspaper usage rules grammar, but they were dictated by editors)

Once I moved south to the States, I had to learn a new set of regular grammatical rules, and a new set of newspaper usages, this time AP stylebook.

The result? Permanent chaos in my head.
Sep. 3rd, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
I'm Canadian actually. I'm sure that there is a firm style guide for this country somewhere, but since they aren't teaching grammar in schools any more I'm not sure what said book might contain. What I've picked up is a mish-mash of British and United Statesian rules. If I'm quoting or highlighting the title of a book, and its not a line of dialogue as spoken by a character, then period on the outside makes more sense to me.
Sep. 3rd, 2010 09:26 am (UTC)
It's a mixed bag in the United States: periods and commas always go inside closing quotation marks; colons and semicolons always go outside said marks; question marks and exclamation points can go inside or outside depending on, for example, whether the whole sentence or only the quote was the question. Most folks have no clue, and it's not hard to figure out why. Same with no longer teaching grammar here, and it's a big mistake. "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is not grammar, but an interesting and humorous look at punctuation with rules explained and examples given. It could really only be used in school, in my opinion as a high school teacher, in an truly not just nominally honors or college credit class, since the humor would be lost on students who generally misuse commas, have no idea how to use a semicolon, and can't understand why its', which doesn't exit in correct usage, isn't somehow plural.
Sep. 4th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
I actually got "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" off of one of my high school teachers in tenth grade. She handed it to me after I complained about my essay mark. She told me that said mark wouldn't improve unless I read it. She also gave me the option of Shrunk and White. Since "The Elements of Style" is just about the most boring read in the universe when you're in tenth grade, I opted for the book with murderous pandas on the cover and have been grateful to that teacher ever since.
Sep. 4th, 2010 11:46 am (UTC)
I'm with you on Strunk and White, and the pandas . . . Well, as I recall, only the gun-wieding one looked murderous. The one on the ladder with the paint brush looked alarmed and determined. My "FGoVU" stands for Fairy Godmother of Verbal Usage, by the way.
Sep. 2nd, 2010 03:38 am (UTC)
I absolutely must find a copy of that book. Although I'm rather partial to The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.
Sep. 1st, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's delightful. I've just emailed it to a friend and plan to post it to Cranky Editors.
Sep. 2nd, 2010 03:42 am (UTC)
Heh - well, I believe I've been amply repaid by your posting of the otters.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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