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Is "Show Don't Tell" a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? | Literary Hub
"In his essay “The Storyteller” (1936), cultural critic Walter Benjamin mourns the death of oral and communal storytelling, taken over in modern history by the novel, the “birthplace of the solitary reader,” and information technology with a rise in capitalism. Yet, what Benjamin posits as the organic evolution of oral, communal practices of storytelling into modern modes of storytelling, consumed by a reader in “privacy,” is in fact, the understanding of a Western history of storytelling as a universal one. As Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell suggest in the introduction to their anthology The Postcolonial Short Story (2012), many non-Western countries did not transition “organically” from oral to written storytelling with a rise in capitalism. For many formerly or currently colonized spaces like South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalized, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture. In their study, Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (1998), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin defend “orality” not as a cultural precondition that morphed into a more advanced written culture, but orality as a counterpart to writing, where both co-exist, complement and transform each other constantly. This coexistence of oral and written modes of storytelling continues to thrive in postcolonial spaces, including those of Asia and Africa.

In her now-canonical essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Zora Neale Hurston makes a strong case for the use of vernacular—especially dialect and rhythm—in Black writing. In his story collection, Creole Folktales (1988) and equally canonical co-authored essay, “In Praise of Creoleness” (1989), Patrick Chamoiseau offers a manifesto for Caribbean storytelling that aims to free itself of French colonial gaze by transforming Martinican-French literature through a militant use of Creole. And while not through cultural theories or essays, contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Roxane Gay, Junot Díaz, and Edwidge Danticat, among others, bring a strong, self-conscious vernacular in their stories. Their fiction questions not only an allegedly mainstream Euro-American storytelling marked by narrative brevity and an economy of words, as lauded by Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Francine Prose in their critical writing, but also the dominance of visuality in many fiction writing workshops with their show-don’t-tell credo, bolstered by our cinematic and digital age with its preference for images over sounds."



"James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Tiphanie Yanique, ZZ Packer, Rajesh Parameswaran—the list of contemporary writing affirming oral and aural alternatives over a sight-based focus of storytelling is long. And I haven’t even gotten started with poetry-in-color, including an aesthetic legacy of rhythm in writing spawned by Papa Césaire and the Négritude movement. What I’ve explored above is a brief sampler on a multifaceted use of orality that challenges the boundaries of a more standard Euro-American literary English with its emphasis on brevity, clarity, and good grammar. In playing persistently with language, sounds and syntax, multiethnic fiction does not shy away from “writing in scenes,” however, it does dethrone the reign of eyesight to stress the importance of other senses in fiction, and hearing in particular.

That said, the use of vernacular or dialect is far from unique to non-Western writers writing within or outside the West. Time and again, major writers across the world have challenged the status quo of a hegemonic language by using the vernacular in different ways. I’m thinking here of Shakespeare and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s linguistic innovation within English and French respectively, and of pioneering poets like Kabir who used the vernacular in Bhakti poetry to challenge the rule of Sanskrit in medieval South Asian literature.

And yet, the examples of multiethnic fiction I’ve shared above have all been published in the last couple of decades, following complex literary and historic changes that include mid-20th century’s wave of decolonization that swept the “third world,” the Civil Rights Movement in the US, the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in the American Academy, and the literary canon wars that followed. This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination.

Orality within fiction that is deliberately engaging with power dynamics between the West and non-West—as evident in the title of Rushdie’s story collection East, West—thus becomes more than just a stylistic device or virtuosity with craft. The shift in sensory focus within multiethnic fiction from images to sounds holds a mirror to our contemporary, complex literary history, guiding the reader further to ways in which these stories maybe constructed, read, or deconstructed. Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal."
orality  oraltradition  visual  via:vruba  2018  storytelling  walterbenjamin  culture  tradition  namratapoddar  globalsouth  maggieawadalla  paulmarch-russell  billashcroft  garethgriffiths  helentiffin  vernacular  zoranealehurston  creole  creoleness  folktales  writing  salmanrushdie  vikramchandra  junotdíaz  edwidgedanticat  edgarallanpoe  johnbarth  fancineprose  criticalwriting  howwewrite  literacy  multiliteracies  dialect  rhythm  patrickchamoiseau  caribbean  africa  asia  colonialism  english  alicewalker  imperialism  gishjen  jamesbaldwin  tonimorrison  tiphanieyanique  zzpacker  showdon'ttell  sandracisneros  roxanegay  ajeshparameswaran  négritude  papacésaire  haiti  aural  oral  sight  brevity  clarity  grammar  fiction  aimécésaire  martinique  léopoldsédarsenghor  léondamas  postcolonialism  louis-ferdinandceline  latinamerica  indigenous  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
marwahelal on Twitter: "𝙰𝚗𝚍, 𝚘𝚏 𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚛𝚜𝚎, 𝚊 𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚐𝚞𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚖𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚊 𝚋𝚘𝚍𝚢 𝚘𝚏 𝚟𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚋𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛𝚢 𝚘𝚛 𝚊 𝚜𝚎
"𝙰𝚗𝚍, 𝚘𝚏 𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚛𝚜𝚎, 𝚊 𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚐𝚞𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚖𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚊 𝚋𝚘𝚍𝚢 𝚘𝚏 𝚟𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚋𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛𝚢 𝚘𝚛 𝚊 𝚜𝚎𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚐𝚛𝚊𝚖𝚖𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚊𝚕 𝚛𝚞𝚕𝚎𝚜. 𝙸𝚝 𝚒𝚜 𝚊 𝚏𝚕𝚊𝚜𝚑 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚑𝚞𝚖𝚊𝚗 𝚜𝚙𝚒𝚛𝚒𝚝, 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚎𝚊𝚗𝚜 𝚋𝚢 𝚠𝚑𝚒𝚌𝚑 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚜𝚘𝚞𝚕

𝚘𝚏 𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛 𝚌𝚞𝚕𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚜 𝚒𝚗𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚊𝚕 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍. 𝙴𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢 𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚐𝚞𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚊𝚗 𝚘𝚕𝚍 𝚐𝚛𝚘𝚠𝚝𝚑 𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚍, 𝚊 𝚠𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚑𝚎𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚘𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝, 𝚊𝚗 𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚒𝚛𝚎

𝚎𝚌𝚘𝚜𝚢𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚖 𝚘𝚏 𝚜𝚙𝚒𝚛𝚒𝚝𝚞𝚊𝚕 𝚙𝚘𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚋𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚒𝚎𝚜." - 𝚆𝚊𝚍𝚎 𝙳𝚊𝚟𝚒𝚜

Welcome to the VERNACULAR HOME, a @nomadreadings #crafttalk. Before we begin, I ask that if you are following along, that you engage these ideas by sharing them, faving, RTing, and chiming in with your own comments.

This talk is dedicated to all displaced peoples and all people who engage in creating a home of language on the page.

1. We’ve witnessed in recent years how advertisers have co-opted vernacular made popular by Black communities on this very platform and profited from it.

2. What these advertisers know is what any good poet knows: vernacular is the pathway to transformation. It is your first language — that language before you were aware of language. It is “like a howl, or a shout or a machine-gun or the wind or a wave,” K. Braithwaite writes.

3. Sidenote: Transformation has a cost but cannot be bought.

4. And as this scene from Spike Lee’s Malcolm X reminds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfRDUsvu5fE , English is an inherently oppressive and racist language. As Malcolm X feels through this new insight into our language — a “con” as we’re told — he transforms and viewers are transformed with him.

5. Perfect segue to the next point…

6. If the poem does not transform (itself or the reader) it is not a poem. I repeat: If the work does not transform, what you have are words on a page — not a poem.

7. Let's now establish what vernacular [poetry] is.

8. Vernacular is a term used to express the idea that all languages are equal. It eliminates hierarchies of dialects vs. language.

As Baldwin writes in an essay I will share more of later, “...language functions as ‘a political instrument, means, and proof of power,’ and only politics separates a language from dialect.” (from the introduction by ed. Dohra Ahmed, Rotten English) https://bit.ly/2pXfk3h

9. Now that we’ve established what vernacular is, please don’t tell me you speak only one language...

10. Your dreams are a vernacular. Nature is a vernacular. Your sneaker collection is a vernacular! Signage: a vernacular. Your unique way of looking at the world: a vernacular. Your heartbeat: a vernacular. Breath: same, a vernacular.

Whenever I teach this material, I end up yelling “EVERYTHING IS VERNACULAR” by the end of every class. So get ready.

11. Building on that (pun intended), vernacular is also the synthesis between the language (words and symbols in any language) we choose, and how we construct it with grammar, punctuation, syntax and form.

12. It is inaccurate to say we are "decolonizing" a language. What we are doing is reclaiming it by colonizing it with our own vernaculars and inventing what it has failed to imagine. It is a language that has failed to imagine 𝘜𝘚. And so this craft talk is also a call

A call to pay attention to where this language has become dull, stale, and boring. A call to pay attention to intentional and unintentional connotations. And to undo those connotations. In undoing them, I ask that we create radical solutions for this language that troubles us.

13. “It was during the anti colonial struggles of the twentieth century that the latent political potential of vernacular literature fully emerged.

14. Our resistance is in the refusal to assimilate, the preservation of our native vernaculars, the creativity in that preservation.

It is in understanding that there is a particular language [they] want [us] to know -- that particular language that is taught in schools, and the rules or codes implied in that agreed upon language and resisting those implications or overturning those agreements.

15. June Jordan said, “Good poetry & successful revolution change our lives, & you cannot compose a good poem or wage a revolution without changing consciousness—unless you attack the language that you share with your enemies & invent a language that you share with your allies.”

Now, with these ideas in mind, let’s go into the texts…

Harryette Mullen, "We Are Not Responsible," "Elliptical" and "Denigration" from Sleeping with the Dictionary [3 images of text]

Note the attention to language, the transformation or awareness brought to the everyday humdrum of signage and those aforementioned 𝓬𝓸𝓷𝓷𝓸𝓽𝓪𝓽𝓲𝓸𝓷𝓼.

Note the attention to punctuation. Each poem uses exactly one form of punctuation in a very distinct way.

I will leave the joy of those discoveries to you! We have more to read...

Here, this breathtaking excerpt by @yosuheirhammad from “break (clear)”, breaking poems [image of text]

The Arabic words "ana" and "khalas" are doing overtime.

"ana" = I am and becomes "I am my" in the last two instances. "Khalas" stands on its own line in the first instance -- open to many translations: "enough," "stop," or "no more" and establishes its commitment to finality in that last line, "khalas all this breaking."

MORE! Solmaz Sharif’s “Persian Letters” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/57580/persian-letters

Here the vernacular “bar bar bar” not only shows us the creation of a word: “barbarians” -- it holds a mirror up to the ones who made it.

“We make them reveal
the brutes they are, Aleph, by the things
we make them name.” - @nsabugsme

NOW Baldwin: “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate. (And, if they cannot articulate it, they are submerged.)”

"Black English is the creation of the black diaspora. Blacks came to the United States chained to each other, but from different tribes: Neither could speak the other's language. If two black people, at that bitter hour of the world's history, had been able to speak to each...

other, the institution of chattel slavery could never have lasted as long as it did. Subsequently, the slave was given, under the eye, and the gun, of his master, Congo Square, and the Bible--or in other words, and under these conditions, the slave began the formation of the

black church, and it is within this unprecedented tabernacle that black English began to be formed. This was not, merely, as in the European example, the adoption of a foreign tongue, but an alchemy that transformed ancient elements into a new language:

A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey.

Link to the full essay: “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” James Baldwin https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html

Further reading: “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan
Link: http://theessayexperiencefall2013.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2013/09/Mother-Tongue-by-Amy-Tan.pdf

I leave you with this poem by @kyle_decoy “American Vernacular” via @LambdaLiterary
https://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/poetry-spotlight/09/19/a-poem-by-kyle-dacuyan/ ]
marwahelal  language  poetry  writing  words  vernacular  culture  resistance  2018  jamesbaldwin  displacement  transformation  appropriation  malcolmx  english  poems  dohraahmed  grammar  punctuation  syntax  decolonization  colonization  assimilation  creativity  preservation  junejordan  harryettemullen  connotation  suheirhammad  solmazsharif  arabic  amytan  kyledacuyan 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Notational
"The Text is plural. Which is not simply to say that it has several meanings, but that it accomplishes the very plural of meaning: an irreducible (and not merely an acceptable) plural. The Text is not a co-existence of meanings but a passage, an overcrossing; thus it answers not to an interpretation, even a liberal one, but to an explosion, a dissemination. The plural of the Text depends, that is, not on the ambiguity of its contents but on what might be called the stereographic plurality of its weave of signifiers (etymologically, the text is a tissue, a woven fabric). The reader of the Text may be compared to someone at a loose end (someone slackened off from any imaginary); this passably empty subject strolls – it is what happened to the author of these lines, then it was that he had a vivid idea of the Text – on the side of a valley, a oued flowing down below (oued is there to bear witness to a certain feeling of unfamiliarity); what he perceives is multiple, irreducible, coming from a disconnected, heterogeneous variety of substances and perspectives: lights, colours, vegetation, heat, air, slender explosions of noises, scant cries of birds, children’s voices from over on the other side, passages, gestures, clothes of inhabitants near or far away.

All these incidents are half identifiable: they come from codes which are known but their combination is unique, founds the stroll in a difference repeatable only as difference. So the Text: it can be it only in its difference (which does not mean its individuality), its reading is semelfactive (this rendering illusory any inductive-deductive science of texts – no ‘grammar’ of the text) and nevertheless woven entirely with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages (what language is not?), antecedent or contemporary, which cut across it through and through in a vast stereophony. The intertextual in which every text is held, it itself being the text-between of another text, is not to be confused with some origin of the text: to try to find the ‘sources’, the ‘influences’ of a work, is to fall in with the myth of filiation; the citations which go to make up a text are anonymous, untraceable, and yet already read: they are quotations without inverted commas."
rolandbarthes  text  language  grammar  citations  references  echoes  culture  intertextual  influences  etymology  gestures  perspective  sources  influence  interconnected  texture  interwoven  intertextuality  interconnectivity 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Experimental trials and ‘what works?’ in education: The case of grammar for writing - Wyse - 2017 - British Educational Research Journal - Wiley Online Library
"The place of evidence to inform educational effectiveness has received increasing attention internationally in the last two decades. An important contribution to evidence-informed policy has been greater attention to experimental trials including randomised controlled trials (RCTs). The aim of this paper is to examine the use of evidence, particularly the use of evidence from experimental trials, to inform national curriculum policy. To do this the teaching of grammar to help pupils’ writing was selected as a case. Two well-regarded and influential experimental trials that had a significant effect on policy, and that focused on the effectiveness of grammar teaching to support pupils’ writing, are examined in detail. In addition to the analysis of their methodology, the nature of the two trials is also considered in relation to other key studies in the field of grammar teaching for writing and a recently published robust RCT. The paper shows a significant and persistent mismatch between national curriculum policy in England and the robust evidence that is available with regard to the teaching of writing. It is concluded that there is a need for better evidence-informed decisions by policy makers to ensure a national curriculum specification for writing that is more likely to have positive impact on pupils."

[via: https://twitter.com/alfiekohn/status/936614840684154883 ]
grammar  education  writing  directinstruction  policy  english  2017  teaching  teachingwriting 
december 2017 by robertogreco
////////// from “Commitment from the Mirror-Writing Box,” Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Woman, Native, Other
"Nothing could be more normative, more logical, and more authoritarian than, for example, the (politically) revolutionary poetry or prose that speaks of revolution in the form of commands or in the well-behaved, steeped-in-convention-language of “clarity.” (”A wholesome, clear, and direct language” is said to be “the fulcrum to move the mass or to sanctify it.”) Clear expression, often equated with correct expression, has long been the criterion set forth in treatises on rhetoric, whose aim was to order discourse so as to persuade. The language of Taoism and Zen, for example, which is perfectly accessible but rife with paradox does not qualify as “clear” (paradox is “illogical” and “nonsensical” to many Westerners), for its intent lies outside the realm of persuasion. The same holds true for vernacular speech, which is not acquired through institutions — schools, churches, professions, etc. — and therefore not repressed by either grammatical rules, technical terms, or key words. Clarity as a purely rhetorical attribute serves the purpose of a classical feature in language, namely, its instrumentality. To write is to communicate, express, witness, impose, instruct, redeem, or save — at any rate to mean and to send out an unambiguous message. Writing thus reduced to a mere vehicle of thought may be used to orient toward a goal or to sustain an act, but it does not constitute an act in itself. This is how the division between the writer/the intellectual and the activists/the masses becomes possible. To use the language well, says the voice of literacy, cherish its classic form. Do not choose the offbeat at the cost of clarity. Obscurity is an imposition on the reader. True, but beware when you cross railroad tracks for one train may hide another train. Clarity is a means of subjection, a quality both of official, taught language and of correct writing, two old mates of power; together they flow, together they flower, vertically, to impose an order. Let us not forget that writers who advocate the instrumentality of language are often those who cannot or choose not to see the suchness of things — a language as language — and therefore, continue to preach conformity to the norms of well-behaved writing: principles of composition, style, genre, correction, and improvement. To write “clearly,” one must incessantly prune, eliminate, forbid, purge, purify; in other words, practice what may be called an “ablution of language” (Roland Barthes)."

— from “Commitment from the Mirror-Writing Box,” Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Woman, Native, Other

[See also PDF of full text in a couple of places:
http://www.sjsu.edu/people/julie.hawker/courses/c1/s2/Trinh-T-Minh-ha-1989.pdf
https://lmthomasucsd.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/minh-ha-reading.pdf ]
trinhminh-ha  rolandbarthes  literacy  clarity  writing  language  taoism  zen  buddhism  persuasion  authority  authoritarianism  power  control  tradition  poetry  prose  canon  rhetoric  grammar  rules  expression  classics  communication  subjection  instrumentality  beauty  style  genre  composition  correction  improvement  purification  speech  vernacular  schools  churches  professions  professionalism  convention  conventions 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Radical Eyes for Equity: Why Journalists Shouldn’t Write about Education | National Education Policy Center
"Over the past couple of days, I have watched almost universal praise for Dana Goldstein’s Why Kids Can’t Write*. Since those sharing this article have tended to be people and organizations that I respect, my own response has been tempered—even though I recognize in the overview of teaching writing the same problems with edujournalism I have been confronting for many years.

Other than Jim Horn’s challenge that Goldstein takes the “blame the teachers” route, many in the writing and teaching writing community have posted and shared this article without challenge, and several have added that Goldstein does a more than adequate job covering the landscape of teaching writing.

The irony here is that this article on the failures to teach students to write is a model for both typical mainstream journalism and everything wrong with mainstream journalism: the breezy recounting of a complex field within which the journalist has no real experience or expertise and the “both sides” coverage of complex issues that treats “sides” as somehow equally credible.

The key problems in this piece can be unpacked in a few claims made by Goldstein.

Early, Goldstein asserts (without any link to evidence):
Focusing on the fundamentals of grammar is one approach to teaching writing. But it’s by no means the dominant one. Many educators are concerned less with sentence-level mechanics than with helping students draw inspiration from their own lives and from literature.

What is profoundly garbled here is a conflating of what the field of teaching writing shows through research and what teachers actually do in their classrooms.

The reality of 2017 and how students are taught writing is best reflected in a comment by former NCTE president Lou LaBrant from 1947:
A brief consideration will indicate reasons for the considerable gap between the research currently available and the utilization of that research in school programs and methods. (p. 87)

Isolated grammar instruction has been shown to have almost no transfer into student writing, and George Hillocks (among others) detailed that traditional grammar exercises could even make student writing worse.

However, I invite Goldstein and others to visit classrooms and, better yet, simply read through the Connected Community’s Teaching and Learning Forum (NCTE) where weekly English teachers voice their continued commitment to “[f]ocusing on the fundamentals of grammar.”

I want to come back to this point with another example below, but next, Goldstein wanders into the fatal flaw of edujournalism with this splash of evidence:
Three-quarters of both 12th and 8th graders lack proficiency in writing, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress. And 40 percent of those who took the ACT writing exam in the high school class of 2016 lacked the reading and writing skills necessary to successfully complete a college-level English composition class, according to the company’s data.

Poor writing is nothing new, nor is concern about it. More than half of first-year students at Harvard failed an entrance exam in writing — in 1874. But the Common Core State Standards, now in use in more than two-thirds of the states, were supposed to change all this. By requiring students to learn three types of essay writing — argumentative, informational and narrative — the Core staked a claim for writing as central to the American curriculum. It represented a sea change after the era of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal law that largely overlooked writing in favor of reading comprehension assessed by standardized multiple-choice tests.

The relentless and uncritical faith in what standardized tests tell us is one of the great problems with edujournalism across all discussions of education, but with writing, this is particularly problematic since standardized testing of writing is universally horrible, lacking validity and itself providing the context for why the teaching of writing is in fact inadequate.

Again, Hillocks has carefully analyzed that one of the most negative influences on teaching students to write has been the high-stakes testing movement. Teachers and their students have become slaves to state-level and national tests of writing that make writing to prompts and conforming to anchor papers as well as rubrics supersede any authentic writing goals that were endorsed by important movements such as the National Writing Project (a key focus of Goldstein’s article).

As I noted earlier, the irony is that a professional journalist’s piece in the NYT fails to provide the sort of credible evidence that many would expect as essential to student writing."



"But, again, what is incredibly important about causality in Applebee and Langer’s analysis, and what is totally subsumed by Goldstein’s focus on teachers, is that the standards and high-stakes testing movement killed the path to authentic writing instruction begun by the National Writing Project in the late 1970s and early 1980s (I outline that phenomenon in a chapter on de-grading the writing classroom).

Teachers and their students are being held accountable for writing standards and high-stakes tests—and everything we know about teaching writing well be damned.

On balance, then, Goldstein fails to expose accurately why students can’t write by glossing over the field of teaching writing without the care and expertise that topic deserves and by depending on weak evidence at the exclusion of a wealth of evidence that powerfully addresses the exact problem she seeks to examine.

Writing and teaching writing are highly complex fields, but we have a great deal of research, we do know how to teach writing well, and the field of composition, like all vibrant fields, remains a living thing driving by debate and investigation.

If we need a simple statement, then, on why students can’t write, let me offer something to consider: Students can’t write well because teachers are blocked from teaching well, and thus, the wall that must be torn down so both can excel is the standards and high-stakes testing movement.

* Goldstein’s title alludes to one of the worst but also enduring works ever on literacy, Why Johnny Can’t Read. This book spurred the school-bashing movement and engrained some of the most negative attitudes about literacy still remaining in the U.S. See Revisiting Content and Direct Instruction."
education  journalism  writing  2017  reporting  danagoldstein  katewalsh  testing  standardizedtesting  reform  schoolreform  learning  teaching  howweteach  literacy  media  standardization  commoncore  data  assessment  pedagogy  lolabrant  1947  georgehillocks  ncte  nationalwritingproject  instruction  grammar  arthurapplebee  judithlanger  1970s  1980s  rudolfflesch  policy  plthomas  paulthomas  high-stakestesting 
august 2017 by robertogreco
The Oxford comma: A Maine court settled the grammar debate over serial commas with a ruling on overtime pay for dairy-truck drivers — Quartz
"A Maine court ruling in a case about overtime pay and dairy delivery didn’t come down to trucks, milk, or money. Instead, it hinged on one missing comma.

Delivery drivers for local milk and cream company Oakhurst Dairy have been tussling with their employers over whether they qualify for overtime. On March 13, a US court of appeals determined that certain clauses of Maine’s overtime laws are grammatically ambiguous. Because of that lack of clarity, the five drivers have won their lawsuit against Oakhurst, and are eligible for unpaid overtime.

The profoundly nerdy ruling is also a win for anyone who dogmatically defends the serial comma."
oxford  commas  punctuation  grammar  law  writing  2017  maine  serialcomma 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Grammar snobs are patronising, pretentious and just plain wrong – Mona Chalabi | Comment is Free - YouTube
"Mona Chalabi argues that those who correct others’ language are clinging to conventions that are unimportant. She says grammar snobbery is often used to silence those who have less of a voice in society."
monachalabi  grammar  grammarsnobs  listening  exclusion  language  english  power 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Grammar Check | Grammarly
"Grammarly makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to 10 times more mistakes than your word processor."
blogging  editing  grammar  tools  writing  onlinetoolkit 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Where's Me a Dog? Here's You a Dog: The South's Most Unusual Regionalism | Atlas Obscura
"Regions of America have their own grammar, just like they have their own vocabulary.

Ohioans, for instance, call the wheeled conveyances used in grocery stores "shopping carts," rather than shopping wagons, carriages, buggies, or any of the other terms used around the country. And if that shopping cart gets dirty, in Ohio, it doesn’t need to be washed; it needs washed.

Sometimes, grammatical variations are obvious to the ear: the “habitual be” of African American Vernacular English–as in "we be showing off" or “who be eating cookies?”–stands out to American English speakers, even if they don’t know its proper use. But sometimes these grammatical variations sneak by.

“New words are being created all the time, and they’re easy to spread,” says Jim Wood, a visiting lecturer at Yale University. “Syntactic constructions, a lot of them are more under the radar, and when you ask about the variation, people often aren’t aware there’s anything surprising about it at all.”

Compared to vocabulary and accents, the regional variations of English grammar in America have not been studied much. So when Wood and his colleagues at the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project started documenting variations, they quickly found unusual constructions—including one that’s not only unique to the American South but that has no parallel in any language they’ve looked at so far.

This discovery began with a blog titled “Here’s you a blog,” which Larry Horn, one of the project’s founders, had come across. This blogger had first come across this grammatical quirk–”here’s you a…”–while traveling in Kentucky: a post office clerk had handed over a stamp featuring a dog, and said, “Here’s you a dog.” The phrase delighted the blogger, and she started using it to label pictures of dogs, until she realized she could apply it to other nouns–like her blog.

When Wood first read that sentence, “it was a sharply ungrammatical sentence to me,” he says. He wanted to find out where it was used and in what forms. By running surveys through Mechanical Turk, the Amazon service which connects workers with paid tasks, Wood and his colleagues determined it was mostly used in the South. When they looked for variations, though, they found an entirely unknown type of sentence.

The linguists wanted to know if “here’s me a…” could be turned into a question—”where’s me a..?” One of their first steps: just Google that phrase. Immediately, they started finding examples. They’re all over the internet, mostly on social media and in the comments sections of websites:

Where's me a bae?

Where's me a good decent guy at?!

Now, where's me a half-ton Dodge Long-Bed?

Where's me a big yellow "GEEKY" button to click on?

When linguists think they’ve found something new, they look for the same construction elsewhere. “The way we tread new ground is asking people: can you say this in your language?” says Wood. Languages are generally similar enough that there are analogues. For “here’s you a…” that was true: there are examples in French, Latin, Russian and Hebrew. But the “where’s” version had no parallels.

“People would wrinkle their nose and say, ‘You can’t say that,’” Wood says.

When Wood and his colleagues investigated the construction, they found that it, too, is used mostly in the American South, stretching west through Texas. In other words, it seems like the South has invented a way of speaking that, as far as anyone knows, doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world right now–and may never have.

“One day we might find a language that has it,” says Wood. “But its absence so far is pretty remarkable.”"
english  language  linguistics  south  2015  regionalism  grammar 
december 2015 by robertogreco
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Facepalm Pilot: Where Technology Meets Stupidity: An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar.
"Depending on whom you ask, the use of the active voice over the passive is arguably the most fundamental writer’s maxim, thought to lend weight, truth, and power to declarative statements. This absolutist view is flawed, however, because language is an art of nuance. From time to time, writers may well find illustrative value in the lightest of phrases, sentences so weightless and feathery that they scarcely even seem to exist at all. These can convey details well beyond the crude thrust of the hulking active voice, and when used strictly as ornamentation, they needn’t actually convey anything at all."
writing  grammar  language  police  passivevoice  2015  race  journalism  english  bias  lawenforcement  via:lukeneff 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive: Phuc Tran at TEDxDirigo - YouTube
"Phuc Tran is in his second decade as a Classicist and Tattooer. He has taught Latin, Greek, German, and Sanskrit at independent schools in New York and Maine and was an instructor at Brooklyn College's Summer Latin Institute. In 2010, he served on a committee to revise the National Latin Praxis exam for ETS. Phuc currently teaches at Waynflete School in Portland."
phuctran  language  english  subjunctive  refugees  2012  identity  indicative  reality  presence  future  imperative  perspective  immigration  immigrantexperience  grammar  depression  regret  creativity  imagination  experience  optimism  philosophy  via:juliarubin  french  vietnamese  france 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Dear Pedants: Your Fave Grammar Rule is Probably Fake | JSTOR Daily
"What’s going on here? How is it that so many people, innocently speaking their own native tongue from birth, are accused of using it incorrectly? Is this really an epidemic of biblical hyperbole, signifying the death of the English language in these sadly degenerate modern times? Are we all going to start txt-speaking 2 each other in the last throes of its life?🙀

On closer inspection, it seems the English language has been dying in fits and starts for hundreds of years, simply through its own evolution. Linguists would agree that there is a socially accepted standard dialect that rules much of the mainstream, literate world of the Anglosphere."
grammar  rules  pedants  classideas  language  english  judgement  2015 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Tumblr Staff — prismatic-bell: atomicairspace: copperbooms: ...
"
prismatic-bell:
atomicairspace:
copperbooms:
when did tumblr collectively decide not to use punctuation like when did this happen why is this a thing


it just looks so smooth I mean look at this sentence flow like a jungle river

ACTUALLY

This is really exciting, linguistically speaking.

Because it’s not true that Tumblr never uses punctuation. But it is true that lack of punctuation has become, itself, a form of punctuation. On Tumblr the lack of punctuation in multisentence-long posts creates the function of rhetorical speech, or speech that is not intended to have an answer, usually in the form of a question. Consider the following two potential posts. Each individual line should be taken as a post:

ugh is there any particular reason people at work have to take these massive handfuls of sauce packets they know they’re not going to use like god put that back we have to pay for that stuff

Ugh. Is there any particular reason people at work have to take these massive handfuls of sauce packets they know they’re not going to use? Like god, put that back. We have to pay for that stuff.

In your head, those two potential posts sound totally different. In the first one I’m ranting about work, and this requires no answer. The second may actually engage you to give an answer about hoarding sauce packets. And if you answer the first post, you will likely do so in the same style.

Here’s what makes this exciting: the English language has no actual punctuation for rhetorical speech–that is, there are no special marks that specifically indicate “this speech is in the abstract, and requires no answer.” Not only that, it never has. The first written record of English (actually proto-English, predating even Old English) dates to the 400s CE, so we’re talking about 1600 years of having absolutely no marker whatsoever for rhetorical speech.

A group of teens and young adults on a blogging website literally reshaped a deficit a millennium and a half old in our language to fit their language needs. More! This group has agreed on a more or less universal standard for these new rules, which fits the definition of “language.” Which is to say Tumblr English is its own actual, real, separate dialect of the English language, and because it is spoken by people worldwide who have introduced concepts from their own languages into it, it may qualify as a written form of pidgin.

Tumblr English should literally be treated as its own language, because it does not follow the rules of any form of formal written English, and yet it does have its own consistent internal rules. If you don’t think that’s cool as fuck then I don’t even know what to tell you."
language  tumblr  internet  english  grammar  via:robinsloan  pigdin  linguistics 
august 2015 by robertogreco
We (Still) Have Work to Do · An A List Apart Blog Post
"So, what have we done? It’s a fair question, and one that’s worthy of a response. Because the answer is this: everything, and also not nearly enough.

Over the past year, we’ve started discussing inclusivity constantly, across every facet of our work—the authors we encourage, the messaging on our website, the people we invite to events, the way we edit articles, the topics we cover.

And yet, we screw up constantly. We cringe when we notice too late that we published an article with a biased example, or used words that defaulted to male. We struggle to include more people of color and non-native English speakers in our pages. We hear that our submissions copy feels alienating.

We’re trying. But what we haven’t been doing is talking about it publicly—because it takes time, yes, but also because it’s scary to lay bare all our decisions, discussions, half-baked ideas, and partially executed plans. It’s scary to say, “we don’t know all the answers, but here’s where we’ve started.”

That changes today."



"MORE INCLUSIVE EDITING

When we edit, we no longer just look for stuff that violates the style guide: website as one word, or 4g with a lowercase g. We also look for biases and non-inclusive language in the words our authors use, and we challenge them to come up with words that pack power without excluding readers.

It’s not black and white: reasonable people have conflicting opinions on the use of you guys, for example. And some things are so deeply embedded in our culture—like calling things crazy or insane—that’s it’s tough, at first, to even recognize that they’re problematic.

One change you may have noticed, if you’re as nerdy about words as we are, is our move to the singular they. Writing “he” or “she” is fine, if you’re talking about a person who goes by “he” or “she.” But when we talk about a person in general, or someone who doesn’t identify as male or female, they’re now a they.

The most important part of this process is that it’s just that: a process. We haven’t “fixed” our editing style. We’re just having an ongoing conversation that gets more nuanced with time—and that everyone on the team is encouraged to participate in.

Some people might find the prospect of hashing and rehashing language tedious (ugh, do we have to talk about this again?!). But I’ve found it incredibly rewarding, because every discussion forces me to challenge my beliefs and biases—and to be a little more willing to listen."



"We’re also actively reaching out to more prospective authors, and encouraging them to write—especially people of color and women who are just emerging in their fields. Oftentimes, these folks have viewpoints and ideas we haven’t heard before—but they’re more likely to think they’re not “experienced enough” to submit an article. There is no shortage of articles talking about why this happens. The problem is, many of those articles simply end up telling marginalized groups that they’re responsible for solving the problem: here’s the careful tightrope you need to walk in order to promote your ideas without coming off as “pushy,” they seem to say.

We’re not buying it. Women and people of color—and particularly women of color, who often feel sidelined by the largely white “women in tech” movement—already have enough to deal with in this field. The least we can do is put in some effort to reach out to them, rather than complaining that they don’t come to us."



"“So…” So? That tiny word sets a tone of disbelief—like we might as well have added “then prove it” at the end. And don’t get me started on those verbs: challenge, refute, revolutionize. Why are we being so aggressive? What about articles that help our community grow, learn, or improve?

We had good intentions here: we wanted to make readers feel like an ALA article was special—not just a post you whip out in an hour. But it wasn’t working. When I asked people whom I’d like to see submit what they thought, I got responses like, “sending something to ALA sounds scary,” or “that seems like a really big deal.”

Oof.

Writing publicly makes most people feel vulnerable, especially those who are just starting to put their ideas out there for the world—in other words, the very people we’re most interested in hearing from. You might get rejected. People might disagree with you. You might even get harassment or abuse for daring to speak up.

We can’t remove all the risks, but what we can do is offer a more nurturing message to new writers. We started by overhauling our contribute page—in fact, we renamed it Write for Us, with an aim of making the message a little more human."



"Inclusion is a practice

I wish I could say that all these changes have been easy for me. But wanting to be more inclusive and actually doing what it takes to be inclusive aren’t the same. Along the way, I’ve had to let go of some things I was comfortable with, and embrace things I was profoundly uncomfortable with.

For example: I hated the singular they for years. It just didn’t sound right. That’s not how subject-verb agreement works, dammit. Our columns editor, Rose, suggested we start using it forever ago. I vetoed the idea immediately. I edited it out of articles. I insisted authors rewrite examples to avoid it. I stuck to my she and he like they were divinely prescribed.

Only grammar isn’t gospel. It’s culture. Language changes constantly, adapting endlessly to meet the world’s new needs and norms. And that’s what we have right now: a cultural shift toward less gendered thinking, less binary thinking. I wanted the culture change without the language change.

I was wrong.

If someone has a problem with it, they can complain to me."
diversity  gender  language  inclusion  sarawachter-boettcher  alistapart  2015  grammar  workinginpublic  tone  communication  outreach  learning  growth  improvement  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Why We Don't Italicize Spanish - YouTube
[See also: http://killingdenouement.tumblr.com/post/91126268644/i-dont-explain-cultural-things-with-italics-or

""I don’t explain cultural things, with italics or with exclamation or with side bars or asides. I was aggressive about that because I had so many negative models, so many Latinos and black writers who are writing to white audiences, who are not writing to their own people. If you are not writing to your own people, I’m disturbed because of what that says to your relationship to the community you are in one way or another indebted to. You are only there to loot them of ideas, and words, and images so that you can coon them to the dominant group. That disturbs me tremendously." —Junot Díaz, with Diógenes Céspedes and Silvio Torres-Saillant (1996)

this is why we stopped using italics-to-connote-foreignness at THE STATE. junot diaz is why we do a lot of things."

and

http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/the-borderlands-of-language-using-italics-for-foreign-words-part-i/

"Junot Díaz once told me that he writes for his six best friends and the rest of the world. This was a few summers ago in a VONA fiction workshop in San Francisco. We had been discussing the meaty issue of how much to explain in our short stories and novels. For example, would the reader understand the meaning of chiltepe without having to look it up? How much did I gain from including details that may feel welcoming to some, alienating to others? I wondered if I should italicize certain words, and by that I meant words in Spanish.

Junot answered my questions with a question: “Who is your audience?”

My audience? Other than the folks sitting around that rectangular table, I didn’t have an audience. This was the first short story I had ever written, save for three failed attempts at stories that were really scenes in an undergraduate fiction course. It was 2006. All of us seated at the table were writers of color. All of us had confronted the barbed wire fence in our writing—italics. When was it appropriate to use them? By using italics were we signaling to readers—foreign word alert, foreign word alert? Were we pushing some readers out? Which readers? Or, was the use of italics actually helpful to all readers?

For Junot, if his six best friends understood what asqueroso meant, then there was no need to italicize the word. As for the rest of the world? Well, the rest of the world could get the word’s meaning from context, or they could look it up. He knew what he was doing. After all, if a writer from the majority culture uses specific terminology from polo or tennis, the reader is expected to look it up. He wanted to flip this and change the identity of the privileged reader. So he would never explain what a platano was, much less a morena. You’ll notice I did italicize these words in Spanish. More on that later."]
danieljoséolder  language  spanish  español  bilingualism  spanglish  formatting  italics  writing  communication  grammar  rules  junotdíaz  jenniferdeleon 
april 2015 by robertogreco
That Way We’re All Writing Now — The Message — Medium
"[When you(r)…
That moment when…]

This style has been huge for some time now. Do you love it, or hate it?

Me—I’m in! Mind you, I’m a fan of all the betentacled linguistic lifeforms that have emerged from our cambrian explosion online. These days, people write insanely more text than they did before the Internet and mobile phones came along. So the volume of experimentation is correspondingly massive and, for me, delightful. One joy of our age is watching wordplay evolve at the pace of E.coli.

But this trend: What’s going on with it? How does it work? Why do people employ it so frequently?

It turns out there are four big reasons why.

To suss this out, I called up some linguists: Gretchen McCulloch, a who specializes in analyzing netspeak (her Toast essay explaining “the grammar of Doge” is a gorgeous example), and Ben Zimmer, a linguist with Vocabulary.com who writes for the Wall Street Journal. As they pointed out, this style of wordplay initially appeared—like most online memes — on image-boards, Tumblr and Youtube. An early version was the meme “that feel when”; variants morphed into the standalone phrase “that awkward moment when”, which by last year was common enough to appear as a movie title.

But it’s more than just movie titles. This stylistic gambit— “that moment when …”, “the thing where …”, “when you realize …” — is omnipresent now. And that’s because it achieves a few conversational goals:

1) It creates a little puzzle. …

2) It makes your feeling seem universal. …

3) It’s short. …

4) It’s a glimpse of the next big way the Internet is changing language. …

For the first fifteen years of the mainstream Internet, the main way language changed was at the level of the individual word. We invented a lot of ‘textisms’ — short forms like ‘ur’ for “you’re”, LOL-style acronyms, or alphanumeric l33tspe@k. And of course, a lot of words got invented, like “selfie”.

What’s happening now is different. Now we’re messing around with syntax — the structure of sentences, the order in which the various parts go and how they relate to one another. This stuff people are doing with the subordinate clause, it’s pretty sophisticated, and oddly deep. We’re not just inventing catchy new words. We’re mucking around with what makes a sentence a sentence.

“Playing with syntax seems to be the broad meta trend behind a whole bunch of stuff that’s going on these days,” McCulloch tells me. And it goes beyond this subordinate-clause trend. Many of the biggest recent language memes were about syntax experimentation, such as the “i’ve lost the ability to can” gambit, or the gnarly elocution of doge, or the “because” meme. (Indeed, Zimmer points out, the American Dialect Society proclaimed “Because” the Word of the Year for 2013, largely because it had been revitalized by this syntax play.)

Why would we be suddenly messing around with syntax? It’s not clear. McCulloch thinks it may be related to a larger trend she’s identified, which she calls “stylized verbal incoherence mirroring emotional incoherence”. Most of these syntax-morphing memes consist of us trying to find clever new ways to express our feelings.

“You want to convey that you’re kind of overwhelmed by your emotions,” she says. “But you don’t want people to think that you’re completely naive about it. So you’re maintaining a certain level of sophistication. You need to stylize your incoherence, so that it’s part of a broader thing people are doing. You don’t just kind of keysmash all over the place. You also want to be witty while you’re doing it.

“You get more attention online if you’re witty, and people actually engage with you if you’re witty about your feelings.”

On the other hand, if you really don’t like this trend, there is—as it happens —an image-meme for your feelings, too. Better yet, it’s a complete sentence!"
clivethompson  2015  language  internet  memes  syntax  linguistics  writing  howwewrite  gretchenmcculloch  doge  grammar  text  texting  play  communication  brevity  universality  belonging  humor  emotions  benzimmer  wordplay  words  sentences  that 
march 2015 by robertogreco
A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences : NPR Ed : NPR
"Burns Florey says it might still be a good tool for some students. "When you're learning to write well, it helps to understand what the sentence is doing and why it's doing it and how you can improve it."

But does it deserve a place in English class today? (The Common Core doesn't mention it.)

"There are two kinds of people in this world — the ones who loved diagramming, and the ones who hated it," Burns Florey says.

She's in the first camp. But she understands why, for some students, it never clicks.

"It's like a middle man. You've got a sentence that you're trying to write, so you have to learn to structure that, but also you have to learn to put it on these lines and angles and master that, on top of everything else."

So many students ended up frustrated, viewing the technique "as an intrusion or as an absolutely confusing, crazy thing that they couldn't understand.""
grammar  education  sentencediagramming  2014  pedagogy  language 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Diagramming Dramatic Dialogue From Action Movies | Mental Floss
"Grammar provides the bare bones for all language—be it the written words of Leo Tolstoy or the eminently impersonated speech of Arnold Schwarzenegger. When Pop Chart Lab tackled the former in their poster diagramming 25 literary opening lines, they found a community of grammar-philes clamoring for more. Gun-toting action heroes were the natural next step.

"As we were brainstorming on another topic to diagram, we initially proposed this as a joke and quickly realized it would be a lot of fun," said the creative team at Pop Chart Labs. The new poster displays the color-coded parts of speech for some of the most memorable lines in movies like Independence Day, Die Hard and The Godfather. But what the likes of the Terminator and James Bond make up for in swagger, they sometimes lack in grammatical clarity.

"We had fun pulling together the list of 30, but while doing so found many action figures don't use proper grammar, so our research team had to parse together what the intended meaning was through their snarls," the team said. So in order to diagram John McClane's exclamation, "Yippe-ki-yay, [expletive]" in Die Hard, the team had to infer not just the syntax but also the semantics."
sentencediagramming  humor  movies  film  dialog  2014  grammar  language 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Twitter / tanehisicoates: So kids. Grammar is good. Even ...
"Would take an entire course on french prepositions and pronouns. Understanding what connects to what is the hardest part."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500661582977069056

"I've heard entire sentences in French, understood every word and found the sentence incomprehensible. Culprit? Pronouns and prepositions."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500661812069928960

"Also a good reason for English-speaking kids to master the basics of English grammar. I am suffering for that now."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500662013186818048

"French would be a lot easier if I hadn't had to to also learn the difference between a "direct object pronoun" and "indirect." At 38."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500662284684111872

"So kids. Grammar is good. Even the people teaching aren't always so good. Grammar is more than pedantry. It's cartography."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500662519619649536 [bookmark leads here]

"This is the consensus. RT @JimBuhler: .@tanehisicoates I never really understood English grammar until I learned German."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500663065202147330

"Worst word in the world. "Some of" is a close approximation. RT @nothingsmonstrd: @tanehisicoates I wish I understood "en." Still baffled."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500663705928220672

"Problem is that most of us encounter "grammar" via people who like to employ it to signal a kind of superiority."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500664335895896064

"But you SHOULD know how to use prepositions--but not because it impresses other snobs. Understanding language is good--ebonics or otherwise."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500664706907242496
ta-nehesicoates  language  french  grammar  prepositions  pronouns  english  cartography  superiority  condescension  snobbiness 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Accessibility and Building a web for everyone because sometimes it's not all about us
"So what can we do? Study, duh. Change our perspectives by constantly telling ourselves "this is not all about me." The more we study and talk and write about the subject, the quicker and easier it will be to change the idea of accessibility being an afterthought or something to wait to consider until the end "if we have the time and the budget." We are so focused on content issues trivial to accessibility of a project - like whether we properly use semi-colons; or the proper use of "whether." We need less grammar nuts and more accessibility nuts."
webdev  accessibility  colorblindness  jennschiffer  grammar  prioritites  webdesign 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar - Michelle Navarre Cleary - The Atlantic
"A century of research shows that traditional grammar lessons—those hours spent diagramming sentences and memorizing parts of speech—don’t help and may even hinder students’ efforts to become better writers. Yes, they need to learn grammar, but the old-fashioned way does not work.

This finding—confirmed in 1984, 2007, and 2012 through reviews of over 250 studies—is consistent among students of all ages, from elementary school through college. For example, one well-regarded study followed three groups of students from 9th to 11th grade where one group had traditional rule-bound lessons, a second received an alternative approach to grammar instruction, and a third received no grammar lessons at all, just more literature and creative writing. The result: No significant differences among the three groups—except that both grammar groups emerged with a strong antipathy to English.



Just as we teach children how to ride bikes by putting them on a bicycle, we need to teach students how to write grammatically by letting them write. Once students get ideas they care about onto the page, they are ready for instruction—including grammar instruction—that will help communicate those ideas. We know that grammar instruction that works includes teaching students strategies for revising and editing, providing targeted lessons on problems that students immediately apply to their own writing, and having students play with sentences like Legos, combining basic sentences into more complex ones. Often, surprisingly little formal grammar instruction is needed. Researcher Marcia Hurlow has shown that many errors “disappear” from student writing when students focus on their ideas and stop “trying to ‘sound correct.’”



"Schools that have shifted from traditional “stand-alone” grammar to teaching grammar through writing offer concrete proof that such approaches work. They are moving more students more quickly into college-level courses than previously thought possible. One of these is a program at Arizona State in which students who test below college-level in their writing ability immediately begin writing college essays. More than 88 percent of these students pass freshman English—a pass rate that is higher than that for students who enter the university as college-level writers. At the Community College of Baltimore, a program in which developmental writing students get additional support while taking college-level writing classes has reduced the time these students spend in developmental courses while more than doubling the number who pass freshman composition. More than 60 colleges and universities are now experimenting with programs modeled on this approach.

In 1984, George Hillocks, a renowned professor of English and Education at the University of Chicago, published an analysis of the research on teaching writing. He concluded that, “School boards, administrators, and teachers who impose the systematic study of traditional school grammar on their students over lengthy periods of time in the name of teaching writing do them a gross disservice that should not be tolerated by anyone concerned with the effective teaching of good writing.” If 30 years later, you or your child is still being taught grammar independent of actually writing, it is well past time to demand writing instruction that is grounded in research rather than nostalgia."
grammar  writing  teaching  teachingwriting  2014  education  howwelearn  via:lukeneff  michellenavarrecleary  georgehillocks 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The Period, Our Simplest Punctuation Mark, Has Become a Sign of Anger | New Republic
"“In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all,” Liberman wrote me. “In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And what they infer, plausibly enough, is something like ‘This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it.’”

It’s a remarkable innovation. The period was one of the first punctuation marks to enter written language as a way to indicate a pause, back when writing was used primarily as a record of (and script for) speech. Over time, as the written word gained autonomy from the spoken word, punctuation became a way to structure a text according to its own unique hierarchy and logic. While punctuation could still be used to create or suggest the rhythms of speech, only the exclamation point and question mark indicated anything like what an orator would call “tone.”"



"It's not just the period. Nearly everyone has struggled to figure out whether or not a received message is sarcastic. So people began using exclamation points almost as sincerity markers: “I really mean the sentence I just concluded!” (This is especially true of exclamation points used in sequence: “Are you being sarcastic?” “No!!!!!”) And as problems of tone kept arising on text and instant message, people turned to other punctuation marks on their keyboards rather than inventing new ones.2 The question mark has similarly outgrown its traditional purpose. I notice it more and more as a way to temper straightforward statements that might otherwise seem cocky, as in “I’m pretty sure he likes me?” The ellipsis, as Slate noted, has come to serve a whole range of purposes. I often see people using it as a passive-aggressive alternative to the period’s outright hostility—an invitation to the offender to guess at his mistake and remedy it. (“No.” shuts down the conversation; “No…” allows it to continue.)

Medial punctuation, like the comma and parentheses, has yet to take on emotional significance (at least as far as I've observed). And these newfangled, emotional uses of terminal punctuation haven't crossed over into more traditional, thoughtful writing. (I have used the period throughout this story, and I’m in a perfectly pleasant mood.) Perhaps one day it will, though, and our descendants will wonder why everyone used to be so angry. For posterity's sake, then, let my author bio be clear:

Ben Crair is a story editor at The New Republic!"
periods  punctuation  texting  language  grammar  emotion  bencrair  2013 
december 2013 by robertogreco
What Can We Learn From Diagramming Sentences? - NYTimes.com
"Diagramming is basically a puzzle, and — as we all know in this age of Alzheimer’s awareness — puzzles keep our brains working. An attempt to tame a really complex sentence can oil your brain, twist it into a pretzel and make it do back flips. One reader of this series expressed a desire to see a diagram of a sentence — any sentence — from Henry James’s “The Golden Bowl.” The following example, which is from book one, chapter two, perhaps supports H.G. Wells’s crack about James’s style, comparing him to “a magnificent but painful hippopotamus resolved at any cost…upon picking up a pea…”
The spectator of whom they would thus well have been worthy might have read meanings of his own into the intensity of their communion — or indeed, even without meanings, have found his account, aesthetically, in some gratified play of our modern sense of type, so scantly to be distinguished from our modern sense of beauty.

But even seemingly kinder, gentler sentences can be challenging. I had an email from a woman named Linda, who presented me with what I started to call the “No, that’s not it” sentence:
Here is where I laid the book.



Obviously, I recommend diagramming, but I do have a couple of caveats.

First of all, diagramming is not for everyone. I’m told by many teachers that the practice is helpful for people who need to visualize an idea in order to grasp it — for those who’d rather see a graph or a pie chart than listen to an explanation, however wonderfully worded. I’ve heard from artists, math geeks and spatial learners of all kinds who say they find diagramming especially useful. One e-mailer told me that for children in special education classes it often works wonders: “You can see the light bulb go on.”



Probably the best way to learn the technicalities of language and usage is not to diagram but simply to read books that are full of good sentences. Our observant brains will soak up the rules. It is the surest route to becoming a better writer — as opposed to merely a grammatically correct writer. If your kids are having trouble with grammar, or their school is one of the many that no longer teach it, read to them, give them books for their birthdays, drive them to the library on Saturday mornings.

As for the verdict on diagramming? The wimpy judgment, but unfortunately the only one that makes sense, is that it is like broccoli: it’s good for you only if you can stomach it."

[via: http://stet.editorially.com/articles/attention-rhythm-and-weight/ ]
grammar  sentencediagramming  writing  english  language  2012 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Botella al mar para el dios de las palabras - Gabriel García Márquez - Ciudad Seva
"A mis 12 años de edad estuve a punto de ser atropellado por una bicicleta. Un señor cura que pasaba me salvó con un grito: «¡Cuidado!»

El ciclista cayó a tierra. El señor cura, sin detenerse, me dijo: «¿Ya vio lo que es el poder de la palabra?» Ese día lo supe. Ahora sabemos, además, que los mayas lo sabían desde los tiempos de Cristo, y con tanto rigor que tenían un dios especial para las palabras.

Nunca como hoy ha sido tan grande ese poder. La humanidad entrará en el tercer milenio bajo el imperio de las palabras. No es cierto que la imagen esté desplazándolas ni que pueda extinguirlas. Al contrario, está potenciándolas: nunca hubo en el mundo tantas palabras con tanto alcance, autoridad y albedrío como en la inmensa Babel de la vida actual. Palabras inventadas, maltratadas o sacralizadas por la prensa, por los libros desechables, por los carteles de publicidad; habladas y cantadas por la radio, la televisión, el cine, el teléfono, los altavoces públicos; gritadas a brocha gorda en las paredes de la calle o susurradas al oído en las penumbras del amor. No: el gran derrotado es el silencio. Las cosas tienen ahora tantos nombres en tantas lenguas que ya no es fácil saber cómo se llaman en ninguna. Los idiomas se dispersan sueltos de madrina, se mezclan y confunden, disparados hacia el destino ineluctable de un lenguaje global.

La lengua española tiene que prepararse para un oficio grande en ese porvenir sin fronteras. Es un derecho histórico. No por su prepotencia económica, como otras lenguas hasta hoy, sino por su vitalidad, su dinámica creativa, su vasta experiencia cultural, su rapidez y su fuerza de expansión, en un ámbito propio de 19 millones de kilómetros cuadrados y 400 millones de hablantes al terminar este siglo. Con razón un maestro de letras hispánicas en Estados Unidos ha dicho que sus horas de clase se le van en servir de intérprete entre latinoamericanos de distintos países. Llama la atención que el verbo pasar tenga 54 significados, mientras en la República de Ecuador tienen 105 nombres para el órgano sexual masculino, y en cambio la palabra condoliente, que se explica por sí sola, y que tanta falta nos hace, aún no se ha inventado. A un joven periodista francés lo deslumbran los hallazgos poéticos que encuentra a cada paso en nuestra vida doméstica. Que un niño desvelado por el balido intermitente y triste de un cordero dijo: «Parece un faro». Que una vivandera de la Guajira colombiana rechazó un cocimiento de toronjil porque le supo a Viernes Santo. Que don Sebastián de Covarrubias, en su diccionario memorable, nos dejó escrito de su puño y letra que el amarillo es «la color» de los enamorados. ¿Cuántas veces no hemos probado nosotros mismos un café que sabe a ventana, un pan que sabe a rincón, una cerveza que sabe a beso?

Son pruebas al canto de la inteligencia de una lengua que desde hace tiempo no cabe en su pellejo. Pero nuestra contribución no debería ser la de meterla en cintura, sino al contrario, liberarla de sus fierros normativos para que entre en el siglo venturo como Pedro por su casa. En ese sentido me atrevería a sugerir ante esta sabia audiencia que simplifiquemos la gramática antes de que la gramática termine por simplificarnos a nosotros. Humanicemos sus leyes, aprendamos de las lenguas indígenas a las que tanto debemos lo mucho que tienen todavía para enseñarnos y enriquecernos, asimilemos pronto y bien los neologismos técnicos y científicos antes de que se nos infiltren sin digerir, negociemos de buen corazón con los gerundios bárbaros, los qués endémicos, el dequeísmo parasitario, y devuélvamos al subjuntivo presente el esplendor de sus esdrújulas: váyamos en vez de vayamos, cántemos en vez de cantemos, o el armonioso muéramos en vez del siniestro muramos. Jubilemos la ortografía, terror del ser humano desde la cuna: enterremos las haches rupestres, firmemos un tratado de límites entre la ge y jota, y pongamos más uso de razón en los acentos escritos, que al fin y al cabo nadie ha de leer lagrima donde diga lágrima ni confundirá revólver con revolver. ¿Y qué de nuestra be de burro y nuestra ve de vaca, que los abuelos españoles nos trajeron como si fueran dos y siempre sobra una?

Son preguntas al azar, por supuesto, como botellas arrojadas a la mar con la esperanza de que le lleguen al dios de las palabras. A no ser que por estas osadías y desatinos, tanto él como todos nosotros terminemos por lamentar, con razón y derecho, que no me hubiera atropellado a tiempo aquella bicicleta providencial de mis 12 años."
via:anne  gabrielgarcíamárquez  language  spanish  español  words  meaning  communication  spelling  ortografía  grammar 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Anguish beyond whirrs | Wrong Dreams
"Written in response to an essay on the New Sincerity, this offhand comment on poetry blog htmlgiant seems to express a fundamental anxiety around what we consider to be authentic, sincere and true in a world where automated programmes are increasingly responsible for both writing and distributing text. This tweet captures a similar sentiment, one that resonates across online space:

[embedded image]

that mistakes are more human, less bot and conversely, that well-written, grammatically correct statements are more contrived and mediated, because they point to the intrusion of automated technology.

Put another way- only a human decides to leave something uncorrected. Word helpfully underlines your mistakes, Skype makes its own adjustments as you type and the iPhone’s hilariously potty-mouthed corrections are regularly shared on Damn You Auto Correct (presumably it picks up words like fuckweasel, butthole and jizz off its owners?)

Keeping the mistakes becomes, therefore, a gesture of asserting human agency, making visible an active choice on the part of a human author in defiance of the ‘correct’ version a bot is programmed to deliver. Or, in its imperfection a ‘badly spelled sext’ (or other message) conveys an urgency, immediacy and therefore sincerity; scribbled in a hurry and sent off before second thoughts/ regret sets in, it becomes a display of vulnerability, fallibility and ultimately humanity.

Badly spelt and punctuated writing also quietly rebels against the slick, well-considered and crafted copy employed by corporate entities, in their slogans, email bulletins and adverts. It communicates a willingness to relinquish image-management and show your ‘real’ self, letting your image slip in a way that no brand would- unless of course it was calculated to come across as more ‘authentic’ (coming to a billboard near you, Coke/ Nike/ Converse ads with crap spelling…just you wait).

What it amounts to is a suspicion that if it’s well written, some non-human agent was involved, which points to the either corporate or technological mediation.

Sincerity effects

As an artistic strategy, keeping the mistakes in has a similar ‘sincerity effect’, suggesting an intimacy and vulnerability that Tracey Emin and to a lesser, funnier extent Laure Provost and doubtless many others have (intentionally or not) made use of. AD Jameson argues (again on htmlgiant) that in Steve Roggenbuck’s work, “persistent typos signal that the work has been written quickly, spontaneously, and is therefore less revised” and “more earnest.” He shows how contemporary poets- many, like Steve Roeggenbuck and Tao Lin, associated with the New Sincerity- are experimenting with ways of writing that can “create the illusion of transparency, of direct communication”, pointing out the irony that they use devices, or methods- which are a kind of artifice- in order to seemingly go beyond artifice and set up a ‘direct’, unmediated connection between poet and reader.

Devices include emulating the meandering flow of a G-chat through broken, stilted conversation, time elisions and slack, no-caps grammar; or channeling the ‘20 open tabs’ mentality of online drift by absent-mindedly switching between ‘deep’ shit (life/ death/ whatever) and inconsequential observations about the colour of the sky:

[poem]

Another tactic is oscillating between different levels of intimacy, which reflects the juggling of simultaneous conversations with mothers, employers and lovers all on the same device; as Senthorun Raj points out in an piece about Grindr, users must calibrate their tone depending on whether they’re texting Mr Right or Mr Right Now, which requires demanding emotional labour."
writing  bots  ericscourti  human  humans  sincerity  vulnerability  2013  flaws  seams  spelling  social  newsincerity  grammar  errors  mistakes  autocorrect  fallibility  humanity  punctuation  mediation  authenticity  squishynotslick  copywriting 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Text speak does not affect children's use of grammar: study - Telegraph
"Children who use ‘text speak’ when sending messages on their mobile phones do not have a poor grasp of grammar, a study has shown."
2012  grammar  writing  language  kids  children  teens  texting  textspeak 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Semicolons: A Love Story - NYTimes.com
"And so, far from being pretentious, semicolons can be positively democratic. To use a semicolon properly can be an act of faith. It’s a way of saying to the reader, who is already holding one bag of groceries, here, I know it’s a lot, but can you take another? And then (in the case of William James) another? And another? And one more? Which sounds, of course, dreadful, and like just the sort of discourtesy a writer ought strenuously to avoid. But the truth is that there can be something wonderful in being festooned in carefully balanced bags; there’s a kind of exquisite tension, a feeling of delicious responsibility, in being so loaded up that you seem to have half a grocery store suspended from your body.

So yes, Kurt Vonnegut: simplicity, in grammar as in all things, is a virtue, not to be sneezed at. But I can’t agree that semicolons represent absolutely nothing; …"
usage  bendolnick  writing  kurtvonnegut  literature  punctuation  grammar  2012  semicolon  semicolons  vonnegut 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Semicolons; So Tricky : The New Yorker
"[I]t still seems to have a vestigial interrogative quality to it, a cue to the reader that the writer is not finished yet; she is holding her breath."

"With a period, the four words sink at the end: SHE LOOKED at me. The semicolon keeps the words above water: because of that semicolon, something about her look is going to be significant."

"If I had invented the interrogative ellipsis, I think I’d have gone with “Punctuation???” Or maybe “Punctuation;” it would have the effect of suggesting that you supply your own subtitle."
connections  seams  marynorris  2012  semicolons  language  communication  grammar  writing  semicolon  seamlessness 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Nominalizations Are Zombie Nouns - NYTimes.com
"The proliferation of nominalizations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency toward pomposity and abstraction.

The sentence above contains no fewer than seven nominalizations, each formed from a verb or an adjective. Yet it fails to tell us who is doing what. When we eliminate or reanimate most of the zombie nouns (tendency becomes tend, abstraction becomes abstract) and add a human subject and some active verbs, the sentence springs back to life:

Writers who overload their sentences with nominalizations tend to sound pompous and abstract."
writing  language  grammar  flipforlessonplans  nouns  nominalizations  via:lukeneff 
july 2012 by robertogreco
I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why. - Kyle Wiens - Harvard Business Review
I've found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing.
grammar  via:litherland 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Bad spellers are a breed apart from good ones. A... - more than 95 theses
“Bad spellers are a breed apart from good ones. A writer with a mind that doesn’t register how words are spelled tends to see through the words he encounters — straight to the things, characters, ideas, images and emotions they conjure. A good speller, by contrast — the kind who never fails to clock the idiosyncratic orthography of “algorithm” or “Albert Pujols” — tends to see language as a system. Good spellers are often drawn to poetry and wordplay, while bad spellers, for whom language is a conduit and not an end in itself, can excel at representation and reportage.”
What Typos Mean to Book Publishing - NYTimes.com
spelling  grammar  writing  via:lukeneff 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Sorry, there's no such thing as 'correct grammar' | Michael Rosen | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Many people yearn for correctness & this is expressed in the phrase "standard English". The honourable side to this is that it offers a common means of exchange. However, this leads many people to imagine that because it is called standard, it is run by rules & that these rules are fixed… In fact, there is no agreed list, a good deal of what we say and write keeps changing and nothing is enforceable. Instead, language is owned and controlled by everybody and what we do with it seems to be governed by various kinds of consent, operating through the social groups of our lives. Social groups in society don't swim about in some kind of harmonious melting pot. We rub against each other from very different and opposing positions, so why we should agree about language use and the means of describing it is beyond me.

…This is not a neutral activity. It is part of how a certain caste of people have staked a claim over literacy."
paradigmwars  society  elitism  power  colonization  colonialism  language  communication  standardization  rules  class  literacy  2012  michaelrosen  dialect  education  english  grammar  castes  via:litherland 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Bring chaos theory to English language teaching | Education | Guardian Weekly
"By relying on grammar rules in class, learners are in danger of becoming detached from the dynamism of spoken language"
language  english  grammar  teaching  writing  classideas  deschooling  unschooling  languagearts  via:rushtheiceberg  rules  rulebreaking  slang  change  dynamic 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Short Schrift: The New Liberal Arts: Photography ["Photography is a comprehensive science; photography is a comparative literature."]
"classical liberal arts are arts of the word, products of the book, letter, lecture…Renaissance added plastic arts of painting & sculpture, & modernity those of laboratory…new liberal arts are overwhelmingly arts of the DOCUMENT, & the photograph is the document par excellence.

Like exact sciences, photographic arts are industrial, blurring line btwn knowledge & technology…Like painting & sculpture, they are visual, aesthetic, based in both intuition & craft. Like writing, photography is both an action & an object: writing makes writing & photography makes photography. & like writing, photographic images have their own version of the trivium—a logic, grammar & rhetoric.

We don't only SEE pictures; we LEARN how they're structured & how they become meaningful…

Photography is science of the interrelation & specificity of all of these forms, as well as their reproduction, recontextualization, & redefinition…"
timcarmody  2009  newliberalarts  photography  seeing  intuition  craft  writing  documents  actions  objects  meaning  expressions  communication  logic  grammar  composition  art  visual 
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Best Questions For A First Date « OkTrends
[I've seen many pointers to this article, but none of them mentioned this bit on religion and writing proficiency (or the simplicity/complexity correlation with politics part either). See the chart at the end of the article.]

"If your date answers 'no'—i.e. is okay with bad grammar and spelling—the odds of him or her being at least moderately religious is slightly better than 2:1.

As someone who is not himself a believer, I found it rather heartening that tolerance, even on something trivial like this, correlated with belief in God, although I should've figured out that religious people are okay with small mistakes. Next to intelligent design, what's a couple typos?

It's also nice when two completely independent datasets corroborate each other. Last summer, we analyzed the profile text of half a million user profiles, comparing religion and writing-level. For every one of the faith-based belief systems listed, the people who were the least serious wrote at the highest level."
dating  statistics  research  relationships  religion  grammar  writing  belief  intelligence  simplicity  complexity  politics  okcupid  data 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Write More - Grade Less
"There is a better way. The key is to teach the basic aspects of writing and the criteria in our scoring guides carefully, explicitly and frequently, making sure that students write a sufficient number of both short and long papers. It is critical that in the course of instruction we provide student and professional exemplars—so that students can learn to peer-edit and self-evaluate their work at each stage, before submitting it to the teacher." [Specific recommendations follow.]
teaching  writing  via:rushtheiceberg  tcsnmy  classideas  editing  peerreview  grammar  voice  thesisstatements 
december 2010 by robertogreco
WCYDWT English? « Bionic Teaching
"Every question I come up with ends up with possible skills all over the place but missing the requirement for a specific skill or set of skills. In English it often seems like you can accomplish an answer but it’s less a puzzle to figure out that will require specific skills and more of a task to accomplish that can be completed to a greater or lesser degree depending on a variety of skills2.

I wonder if it doesn’t come down to the fact that in English we often lack a definitive “right” answer. It could be I’m just failing to think properly about this. …

There’s something to be said for just having fun with the language and letting some things be messy. That’s good and fine but I still think there are ways to get at more specific understandings using the WCYDWT format."
wcydwt  teaching  english  writing  reading  language  classideas  messiness  communication  grammar  rules 
december 2010 by robertogreco
"SpellCheckPlus" Online Spelling and Grammar Checker for English as a Second Language
""SpellCheckPlus" is a grammar checker that finds common spelling errors and grammatical mistakes in English

Simply type (or paste) your text into the window below and hit the "check text" button."
grammar  english  spellcheck  writing  spelling  onlinetoolkit  teaching  classideas  spellcheckplus  editing 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Semicolon squalls - Bobulate
"People have the idea that mastering the semicolon is the acme of prose artistry, as if the mark itself could call a logical structure into being. As one grammarian put it, the semicolon is the mortar that joins two ideas into a greater one. But semicolons don’t create a structure; they just point to one. It’s nice to know where a semicolon is supposed to go, but it’s nothing to swell your chest over. The artistry is in being able to write sentences that require one."
writing  punctuation  grammar  janeausten  english  change  flux 
november 2010 by robertogreco
The Best Language Tools for Geeks
"No matter your command of the English language, we all have trouble defining, pronouncing, or even remembering certain words, which makes writing tough. Here are some of the best tools to help you out.

We talked about online language tools for nerds a couple years ago, and today we're revisiting it with newer and better options. This list isn't exhaustive, but it's some of our favorite tools we've found—and even make use of on a daily basis—to help in our writing."
dictionary  language  lifehacker  reference  classideas  english  vocabulary  tools  research  wolframalpha  search  definitions  wordsearch  pronunciation  phrases  spelling  grammar  thesaurus  dictionaries  definition  words  via:robinsloan 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Pleonasm - Wikipedia
"use of more words or word-parts than is necessary for clear expression: examples…black darkness, burning fire, digital download or redundant pleonasm. Such redundancy is, by traditional rhetorical criteria, a manifestation of tautology. The term "tautology" is derived from 2 Greek words meaning It says this, i.e. the same thing.

Often, pleonasm is understood to mean a word or phrase which is useless, clichéd, or repetitive, but a pleonasm can also be simply an unremarkable use of idiom. It can even aid in achieving a specific linguistic effect, be it social, poetic, or literary. In particular, pleonasm sometimes serves same function as rhetorical repetition—it can be used to reinforce an idea, contention or question, rendering writing clearer & easier to understand. Further, pleonasm can serve as a redundancy check: If a word is unknown, misunderstood, or misheard, or the medium of communication is poor, pleonastic phrases can help ensure that the entire meaning gets across"
english  grammar  language  linguistics  words  semantics  pleonasm  writing  via:thelibrarianedge 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Synecdoche - Wikipedia
"Synecdoche (pronounced /sɪˈnɛkdəkiː/; from Greek synekdoche (συνεκδοχή), meaning "simultaneous understanding") is a figure of speech[1] in which a term is used in one of the following ways:

*Part of something is used to refer to the whole thing (Pars pro toto), or
*A thing (a "whole") is used to refer to part of it (Totum pro parte), or
*A specific class of thing is used to refer to a larger, more general class, or
*A general class of thing is used to refer to a smaller, more specific class, or
*A material is used to refer to an object composed of that material, or
*A container is used to refer to its contents."
synecdoche  metaphor  grammar  linguistics  literature  words  writing  philosophy  metonymy  language  communication  definitions  english  relationships  containers  rhetoric  device 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Purdue OWL [Purdue Online Writing Lab] [Grammar blog at: http://thegrammargang.blogspot.com/]
"The Purdue University Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement. The Purdue Writing Lab serves the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus and coordinates with local literacy initiatives. The Purdue OWL offers global support through online reference materials and services."
language  grammar  howto  teaching  english  esl  education  references  purdue  citations  writing  tutorials  tips  via:javierarbona 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Copy space editor - Bobulate
"As a former copy editor, I’ve watched my grammar-to-writing ratio shift. The more I write, the less attention I pay to copy editing, evidenced by the fact (evidence of the fact?) that I had to instant message a friend recently to inquire: “is it ‘Applause for who?’ or ‘Applause for whom?’” After a few minutes, he typed slowly, “YOU’RE asking ME?”"
writing  copyediting  grammar  process  learning  lizdanzico  editing  doing 
july 2010 by robertogreco
I have RAS syndrome
"I just don't have the energy to be pedantic about grammar and usage anymore. (Or perhaps I'm thinking more about writing and less about editing.)" [This is the what I hope TCSNMY students focus on: communicating through writing, not becoming grammar snobs.]

[Related: http://bobulate.com/post/845337149/copy-space-editor ]
kottke  writing  grammar  schools  schooliness  snobbery  tcsnmy  editing  efficiency  redundancy  acronyms  petpeeves  humor  communication 
july 2010 by robertogreco
You were doing it wrong | Ask MetaFilter [second quote from and found via: http://bobulate.com/post/785160274/jackass-knowledge]
"Crap, I've been doing it wrong." We've all had those sudden epiphanies where we realize we've been doing something incorrectly, ineffectively or just suboptimally our whole lives, in domains from handicraft to human relations to technical stuff to personal grooming. What have you spent large portions of your life doing wrong?"
metafilter  stories  learning  life  wrong  grammar  mistakes  reading  culture  lifehacks  humor 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Tinkerings » Patient Problem Solvers [via: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=6929]
"So I’ve been thinking of ways to make kids patient problem solvers in language arts. We drill and kill all these rules for spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and more. But I’m afraid kids lose a fundamental truth needed to understand their importance: Why are we doing this?
education  english  grammar  howto  wcydwt  classideas  learning  teaching  tcsnmy  writing  language  languagearts 
june 2010 by robertogreco
EasyWriter
"To help you better understand the conventions of academic and professional writing, we have identified the twenty error patterns (other than misspelling) most common among U.S. college students and list them here in order of frequency. These twenty errors are likely to cause you the most trouble, so it is well worth your effort to check for them in your writing.
english  errors  grammar  highschool  teaching  writing  reference  punctuation  correction  conventions  practice  tcsnmy  via:lukeneff 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Polysyndeton - Wikipediaia
"Polysyndeton is the use of several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted (as in "he ran and jumped and laughed for joy"). It is a stylistic scheme used to achieve a variety of effects: it can increase the rhythm of prose, speed or slow its pace, convey solemnity or even ecstasy and childlike exuberance. In grammar, a polysyndetic coordination is a coordination in which all conjuncts are linked by coordinating conjunctions (usually and, but, or, nor in English)."
english  grammar  habits  words  writing  cv  via:russelldavies  repetition  conjunctions  style 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Litotes - Wikipedia
"In rhetoric, litotes[1] is a figure of speech in which a certain statement is expressed by denying its opposite. For example, rather than merely saying that a person is attractive (or even very attractive), one might say they are "not unattractive".

Litotes is a form of understatement, always deliberate and with the intention of emphasis.[5] However, the interpretation of negation may depend on context, including cultural context. In speech, it may also depend on intonation and emphasis; for example, the phrase "not bad" can be said in such a way as to mean anything from "mediocre" to "excellent".

The use of litotes is common in English, Russian, German and French. They are features of Old English poetry and of the Icelandic sagas and are a means of much stoical restraint.[6]

George Orwell complained about overuse of the 'not un...' construction in his essay "Politics and the English Language"."
definition  language  words  rhetoric  speech  grammar  english  linguistics  litotes  opposites  understatement  enlish  russian  french  icelandic 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Teabonics - a set on Flickr
"These are signs seen primarily at Tea Party Protests.

They all feature "creative" spelling or grammar.

This new dialect of the English language shall be known as "Teabonics.""
conservatives  humor  language  teabaggers  teaparty  grammar  english  healthcare  spelling  teabonics 
april 2010 by robertogreco
HOW TO WRITE GOOD
"1. Avoid alliteration. Always. 2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with. 3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.) 4. Employ the vernacular. 5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc. 6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary. 7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive. 8. Contractions aren't necessary. 9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos. 10. One should never generalize. 11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know." 12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches. 13. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous. 14. Profanity sucks. 15. Be more or less specific. 16. Understatement is always best. 17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement. 18. One-word sentences? Eliminate. 19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake. 20. The passive voice is to be avoided. 21. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms..."
advice  humor  grammar  writing  tcsnmy  rules 
april 2010 by robertogreco
50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"It's sad. Several generations of college students learned their grammar from the uninformed bossiness of Strunk and White, and the result is a nation of educated people who know they feel vaguely anxious and insecure whenever they write "however" or "than me" or "was" or "which," but can't tell you why. The land of the free in the grip of The Elements of Style.
writing  education  strunk&white  language  criticism  english  linguistics  communication  academics  grammar  critique  style 
december 2009 by robertogreco
UK Study Links Technology and Strong Writing Skills » Spotlight
"New evidence shows that blogs, texting can help strengthen students’ core literacy skills. ... The report found that kids who blog or contribute to a social networking sites are more likely to enjoy writing—and are more prolific—than those who do not have a blog or contribute to social networking sites. These students also believe themselves to be good writers.
blogs  texting  blogging  tcsnmy  writing  grammar  learning  online  socialnetworking  literacy 
december 2009 by robertogreco
HTMLGIANT / Grammar Challenge!
"IF NO ONE HAS YET TAUGHT YOU HOW TO AVOID OR REPAIR CLAUSES LIKE THE FOLLOWING, YOU SHOULD, IN MY OPINION, THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT SUING SOMEBODY, PERHAPS AS CO-PLAINTIFF WITH WHOEVER’S PAID YOUR TUITION"
davidfosterwallace  language  grammar  english  linguistics  writing  quiz  test  literature 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Snarkmarket: Everybody Knows You Never Capitalize a Public Good
"ThatWhich is right; it’s definitely “website.” But—and please do not award me any pedantry points; I only mention this because I carry a deep, nerdy conviction on the point—it’s always “the web” and (for that matter) “the internet.” No capitalization.
language  usage  writing  grammar  capitalization  internet  web 
august 2009 by robertogreco
On Language - All-Purpose Pronoun - NYTimes.com
"rmal contexts,” but the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) isn’t there yet.

It’s a shame that grammarians ever took umbrage at the singular they. After all, they gave you a slide. It began life as a plural object pronoun and evolved into the whole enchilada: subject and object, singular and plural. But umbrage the grammarians took, and like it or not, the universal they isn’t universally accepted — yet. Its fate is now in the hands of the jury, the people who speak the language. Yes, even those who use only 140 characters a pop."
language  english  grammar  gender  pronouns  writing  words  twitter  linguistics 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Why Finnish is cooler than English | Jacket Copy | Los Angeles Times
"I admit, I don't spend a lot of time comparing English to Finnish. Someone far more qualified than me has, tho -- that's Tero Ykspetäjä, a science-fiction fanzine editor and recent guest blogger at Jeff Vandermeer's Ecstatic Days. In addition to posting about about science fiction in Finland, he came up with the Top Five Reasons Finnish Is Cooler Than English...Finnish is more equal. We don’t have gender-specific personal pronouns, there’s just “hän” meaning both “he” and “she”...We have more letters than you do...Finnish is elegant and economic. You can say so much more with just one word...Finnish is clear and logical...There’s no future tense in the Finnish language."
language  finland  finnish  humor  words  grammar  english  comparison  gender  languages 
november 2008 by robertogreco
zeugma: Definition from Answers.com
"A construction in which one word or phrase is understood to be related to two or more other words or phrases, while being grammatically consistent with only one of them, as with subject-verb agreement in She was upstairs, and her children downstairs."
language  english  grammar  figureofspeech  definitions 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Page F30: Why Norwegian is the easiest language for English speakers to learn
"Persian is easy in terms of grammar, most Western European languages have the advantage of common vocabulary and recognition. Norwegian happens to have both of these, and in this post I'm going to show why Norwegian is the easiest language for your average English speaker to learn."
languages  comparison  norwegian  danish  icelandic  swedish  dutch  german  english  learning  linguistics  norway  language  grammar  via:tomc  persian  arabic  fardi 
august 2008 by robertogreco
johnaugust.com » Were I to seek examples of the subjunctive…
"While there are many shaky grammatical constructs I could easily see collapsing, subjunctive has several points in its favor: Most native speakers don’t know they’re using it; alternatives are rarely better; really common in religious material."
language  grammar  english  subjunctive  spanish 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Wired News - Apostrophes in Names Stir Lot O' Trouble
"can stop you from voting, destroy your dental appointments, make it difficult to rent a car or book a flight, even interfere with your college exams...director of software development at Permission Data said the problem is sloppy programming."
grammar  names  punctuation  webdev  coding  forms  digitalpains  naming  webdesign 
february 2008 by robertogreco
elative: Definition and Much More from Answers.com
"Of, relating to, or being the grammatical case indicating motion out of a place in some languages, as in Finnish hotellista, “out of the hotel.”
grammar  language  words  motion  meaning 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Passive Voice Is Redeemed For Web Headings (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)
"Active voice is best for most Web content, but using passive voice can let you front-load important keywords in headings, blurbs, and lead sentences. This enhances scannability and thus SEO effectiveness."
communication  internet  web  webdesign  usability  language  tips  passivevoice  grammar  writing  titles  journalism  webdev 
october 2007 by robertogreco
AskOxford: Ask the Experts
"We have built a database of some of the questions sent in to the Oxford Word and Language Service team, so it is likely that if your question is a fairly broad one on grammar, usage, or words then it will be answered here. Simply choose a category and th
english  language  grammar  reference  semantics  spelling  symbols  dictionary  usage  words  writing  linguistics  dictionaries 
october 2007 by robertogreco
The half-life of irregular verbs scales with the square root... (kottke.org)
"The half-life of irregular verbs scales with the square root of usage frequency. "Be" and "have" will be irregular for a long time but "dive", "sting", and "wring" have less time before they're regularized."
language  history  linguistics  evolution  english  grammar 
october 2007 by robertogreco
globeandmail.com: Bye-bye (or is it byebye?) to 16,000 silly hyphens
"The editors of the dictionary have decided, in an awesome display of ruthless language modification, that the conventions of hyphenation were arbitrary and needed simplification...most of the hyphenated words [are now] one word"
dictionary  writing  publishing  english  language  words  grammar  dictionaries 
october 2007 by robertogreco
idiolect: Definition and Much More from Answers.com
"The speech of an individual, considered as a linguistic pattern unique among speakers of his or her language or dialect... the particular variety of a language used by an individual speaker or writer, which may be marked by peculiarities of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation."
words  language  linguistics  speech  dialects  grammar  pronunciation  accents  time  age  identity 
september 2007 by robertogreco
The Passivator (Ftrain.com)
"A passive verb and adverb flagger for Mozilla-derived browsers, Safari, and Opera 7.5, with caveats."
grammar  language  english  writing  patterns  productivity  editing  javascript  style  literature  linguistics  paulford 
september 2007 by robertogreco
implicature: Definition and Much More from Answers.com
"Although the utterance “Can you pass the salt?” is literally a request for information about one's ability to pass salt, the understood implicature is a request for salt."
words  communication  language  english  grammar  expression 
september 2007 by robertogreco
The Chicago Manual of Style Online
"The bible of the publishing and research community is now available on your desktop. The Chicago Manual of Style Online is completely searchable and easy to use, providing quick answers to your style and editing questions."
bibliography  books  design  writing  reference  research  grammar  english  editing  punctuation  language  guides  standards  publishing  journalism  style 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Pattern language - Wikipedia
"A pattern language is a method of describing good design practices within a field of expertise. The term was coined by architect Christopher Alexander and popularized by his book A Pattern Language. Advocates of this design approach claim that ordinary people can use it to successfully solve very large, complex design problems.

Like all languages, a pattern language has vocabulary, syntax, and grammar—but a pattern language applies to some complex activity other than communication. In pattern languages for design, the parts break down in this way:

• The language description—the vocabulary—is a collection of named, described solutions to problems in a field of interest. These are called "design patterns." So, for example, the language for architecture describes items like: settlements, buildings, rooms, windows, latches, etc.

• Each solution includes "syntax," a description that shows where the solution fits in a larger, more comprehensive or more abstract design. This automatically links the solution into a web of other needed solutions. For example, rooms have ways to get light, and ways to get people in and out.

• The solution includes "grammar" that describes how the solution solves a problem or produces a benefit. So, if the benefit is unneeded, the solution is not used. Perhaps that part of the design can be left empty to save money or other resources; if people do not need to wait to enter a room, a simple doorway can replace a waiting room.

• In the language description, grammar and syntax cross index (often with a literal alphabetic index of pattern names) to other named solutions, so the designer can quickly think from one solution to related, needed solutions, and document them in a logical way. In Alexander's book, the patterns are in decreasing order by size, with a separate alphabetic index.

• The web of relationships in the index of the language provides many paths through the design process.

This simplifies the design work, because designers can start the process from any part of the problem they understand, and work toward the unknown parts. At the same time, if the pattern language has worked well for many projects, there is reason to believe that even a designer who does not completely understand the design problem at first will complete the design process, and the result will be usable. For example, skiers coming inside must shed snow and store equipment. The messy snow and boot cleaners should stay outside. The equipment needs care, so the racks should be inside. etc."
architecture  design  development  education  grammar  language  linguistics  patterns  reading  reference  process  lcproject  theory  christopheralexander  apatternlanguage 
july 2007 by robertogreco
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