Tuesday, January 23, 2007
grammar, a slight revision
I was about 10 minutes into an argument with my 6th hour yesterday regarding whether or not knowledge of how to use an apostrophe correctly was requisite to their general happiness and success in life when it happened,

I broke.
They had worn me down.
I had ceased to care.

For the record I'm not supposed to be teaching remedial writing, yet 30% of my freshman tested below the minimum standard in writing last year so I am apparently remediating nonetheless. Understandably, writing has been a bit of a sensitive issue this year and where I am usually finding myself annoyed with subject/verb agreement errors, this year I'm doing cartwheels if a paper is turned in with only a handful of fragments and run-on sentences. I spent the majority of my previous weekend stumbling through 70 of some of the most poorly-written essays I've ever collected, and as a consequence I guess I just didn't have the emotional strength to fight for the apostrophe anymore. (Sorry little punctuation. Rest in peace.)

It was at that moment when it occurred to me that if I just accepted some of the grammar and spelling rules most of my students have already adopted not only would I be a happier person, but I'd also be a better teacher because my students would be instantly transformed into better writers. And so I'm giving in. To celebrate my defeat, I've created a small list of some revisions I'm planning to petition to the MLA committee - wherever they may be. Please take a quick sec to look them over, and do let me know if there's anything you think I may have missed.

Rule #1: Apostrophes are dumb should be eradicated.
Context clues are sufficient to discern between plural and possessive nouns, silly.

Rule #2: Parts of speech are irrelevant since any noun can be turned into a verb and vice-versa.
It's quite easy, you see. For instance, see how easily the noun "injustice" can become "injusticize," and "prejudice" can become "prejudized." And if pesky spell check pops up, just hit "add word" and poof! You're Shakespeare, creating your own words and stuff!
(Actually, this is a rule I've already sort of embraced. My frequent use of the words "assemblage," "fuckwit," "skeptimistic" are proof enough.)

Rule #3: Commas are awesome and, should be used, as frequently as, possib,le.

Rule #4: Like apostrophes, homonyms are equally dumb so let's not fret over them anymore, okay?
Instead of spelling them differently (which can be terribly confusing) let's just combine all spellings into one franken-word. Let "there/their/they're" become "ther." Let "weather/whether" become "wheather." Let "to/two/too" become "twoo." The English language has twoo many words as it is.

So, Ill bee writing the, proposal, sometime this week. Just, let me know if ther r any, rulez of ur own ud like me twoo, add and Id bee happy twoo do, so.

(Judge me if you must, but I'm so tired. So very very tired.)

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Blogger paul said...

Welcome, to my life, my friend. Students papers get so bad there hardly able to pass my remedial course. Good luck correctizing your next essays.

Blogger Steve said...

"Basketball, football, choir, youth group, these are just a few things teens do in High School to stay involved. Teens stay involved maybe because of their friends, or because to stay in shape. But also to stay involved with in school and out of trouble."

Anonymous Donna said...

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

Blogger alienvoord said...

Nouns turning into verbs is called functional shift. Sometimes a suffix like "-ize" is added, and sometimes there is no change, as in "contact", "elbow", "interview", and "panic". This does not mean that parts of speech are irrelevant.

Blogger Mrs. White said...

Apparently it wasn't entirely clear that I was joking. (Sort of). Yes, I know that parts of speech aren't irrelevant "Alienvoord," however thank you very much for reminding us all.

And Donna, that's very funny. I'll have to share it with my kids.

Oh, and P.S. Some of my favorite essay titles from last weekend:

"The Importance of Killing a Mockingbird"

"The Prejudice of the Mockingbird"

"How to Kill a Mockingbird"

"A Big Ole Earful on the Mockingbird"

Blogger JMW said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. Assemblage is a perfectly legitimate word.

Skeptimistic, though...hmmm.

Blogger Mrs. White said...

It's true that assemblage can be legitimate, but not the way I like to use it.

And I happen to like skeptimistic very much, JMW. What other words do such an efficient job of conveying the feeling of being both pessimistic and skeptical all at once? None that I know, anyway.

Blogger Wife said...

Oooh. My students would definitely second the abolition of apostrophes. I see more of "wont" and "cant" than I can handle. And seriously? The number of seniors I have who don't get our/are and their/there/they're is sickening.

While you're thinking of adding words, I'd like you to consider "ept" as well... I mean, you can be inept, why can't you be ept? (Also, I love the word fuckwit. It's the Anglophile in me.)

Blogger JMW said...

One thing that's bugged me for a long time, because I'm a giant nerd, is that there's no adjectival form of the word "integrity." Integruous? Integriful? I'm not sure what it should be (all of the options are pretty ugly, I guess), but I often find myself wanting to use that word and I can't.

Blogger Mrs. White said...

I asked my kid who likes to make up his own words, and he said that the adjectival form of "integrity" is "integrituvial." (I'm not sure I'm spelling it correctly, however.)

And I really like the word "adjectival," by the way. I'll have to work that into daily conversation more often.

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Blogger john peter said...

I really like the word "adjectival," by the way. I'll have to work that into daily conversation more often.

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