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Amateur Grammarian
September 7, 2012 9:20 AM   Subscribe

I am the very model of an amateur grammarian.
I have a little knowledge and I am authoritarian
But I make no apology for being doctrinarian
We must not plummet to the verbal depths of the barbarian...
posted by Chocolate Pickle (48 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cute! And, wow, I have certainly missed "...Modern Major-General" parodies. They used to be everywhere! Or am I just making that up?

"...Modern Teenage Cyberpunk was my favorite unless you count Tom Lehrer's The Elements, which isn't really a parody.

MetaFilter: When all around are wrong then I am proud to be contrarian
posted by griphus at 9:26 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


obligatory Mitchell and Webb Look clip for grammar
obligatory Mitchell and Webb Look clip for Gilbert and Sullivan

Man, I'm older than the Beatles but I'm younger than the Rolling Stones!
posted by infinitewindow at 9:27 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed with how my sketch "Commedia dell'arte" scored with the focus group.
posted by inturnaround at 9:44 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I sing it in my head, it needs more cowbell :(
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 9:47 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is fantastic. I was about to tear it apart for breaking the meter on this line:

And I’d disown my closest family within a minute if

But then I realized that the meter was fine, I was just pronouncing "family" with two syllables like a barbarian.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:47 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


At least it didn't have "all right" as one word.
posted by jscalzi at 9:50 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd like to think I'm not a prescriptivist, but I cringe when I get work emails which do things like substitute "u" for "you".
posted by Slothrup at 9:51 AM on September 7, 2012


OLL RAIGHT
posted by griphus at 9:52 AM on September 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's the issue with "anticipate"? I'm not sure I've ever been scolded about that one.
posted by eugenen at 9:53 AM on September 7, 2012


Never forget the classic I Am the Very Model of a Modern Libertarian.

my libertarian friends don't find it funny, oddly
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:56 AM on September 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


If we're going to sing about pedagogy: "I'm wasting my vocation teaching you to write neat/When you're only fit to sweep the street"--Ray Davies
posted by scratch at 10:01 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, I expected to hate this (I'm a testy G&S fan) but this was really well done, actually.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:09 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is a really, really good Modern Major-General filk.

What's the issue with "anticipate"? I'm not sure I've ever been scolded about that one.

I expect this refers to this distinction.

But checking the OED, it has an obsolete meaning of "to seize or take possession of beforehand", for which there are examples in 1594, 1623, and 1785. The second listed definition is "to use in advance; to spend (money) before it is at one's disposal", e.g., "Do not anticipate your income.", and the fifth is "to observe or practice in advance of the due date; to cause to happer earlier, accelerate", e.g., "The funerall..is anticipated, and shall be on Thursday."
posted by Zed at 10:11 AM on September 7, 2012


Yes.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:13 AM on September 7, 2012


I have read
the parody
that was in
the link

and which
you hoped would
entertain
the mefites

Forgive me
parody repeats
so cliche
and so old
posted by eriko at 10:15 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]



A highly published linguist friend used to use The Language As She is Spoke and constantly berated prescriptivists, yet in his published articles and books he was always very "correct."
When I pointed this out to him, he said we should be like Malcolm X know and use what fits when and where it is appropriate for the audience we are addressing. Malcolm X was proud of the fact that he could "talk " like Harvard grad and also, when needed, address folks in Harlem on a street corner.
posted by Postroad at 10:19 AM on September 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Whenever I am referred to "Modern Major General," my brain always defaults to thinking of "Hooray for Captain Spaulding!"
posted by not_on_display at 10:24 AM on September 7, 2012


"Heroine Barbarian" has always been one of my favorite MMG parodies.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:34 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd just like to pop in and say that it soothes my weary soul when people actually pay attention to meter in song and poem parodies.

Also I just sent this to my ex-editor dad, the guy who will never let me get away with saying 'jealous' when I mean 'envious'.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:48 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Postroad - that is called "code switching" (I think), and most of us do it
posted by thelonius at 10:48 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


And not to forget xkcd's Every Major's Terrible
posted by rtimmel at 10:54 AM on September 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Why is it that Gilbert and Sullivan and pedantry go together so well?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:54 AM on September 7, 2012


You will say a better amateur grammarian has never... rode a horse.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:03 AM on September 7, 2012


Why is it that Gilbert and Sullivan and pedantry go together so well?

Because they were (kind of) stuffy Brits parodying the pedantry of stuffy Brits themselves.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:05 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thelonius, it's not code-switching -- at least not if you want to use the term as it is used by linguists. Code-switching is using multiple (usually two, sometimes more) languages or language varieties in a single conversation.

People who grow up speaking non-standard varieties are often bidialectal, speaking the dialect they learned as children as well as a more standard, socially prestigious dialect. They may code-switch in some situations.

Many English speakers who grew up already speaking a dialect close to a standard are not bidialectal and they don't really code-switch. Pretty much all of us are able to speak more or less formally, depending on the situation, but this isn't the same as code-switching. (Although the line is somewhat fuzzy.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:09 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thelonius, it's not code-switching -- at least not if you want to use the term as it is used by linguists.

Would code-switching, then, possibly act as the genesis of a creole?


unlike my last response, where I was trying for clever and may have failed this is an entirely earnest question. I'd never heard the term before.
posted by eriko at 11:18 AM on September 7, 2012


Oh goody!


I am currently singing this in the most pretentious Trans-Atlantic accent I can muster.


The cats are not impressed.





Philistines.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:48 AM on September 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


"What's the issue with "anticipate"? I'm not sure I've ever been scolded about that one."

Usage note from my desktop dictionary: "USAGE Anticipate in the sense 'expect, foresee' (as in sense 1 above) is well established in informal use ( : he anticipated a restless night), but is regarded as a weakening of the meaning by many traditionalists. The formal sense is more specific in its meaning, 'be aware of and deal with beforehand' ( : the doctor anticipated the possibility of a relapse by prescribing new medications)."
posted by klangklangston at 12:18 PM on September 7, 2012


So the "correct," traditional usage is the Tracy Jordan one, i.e.:

"Where are the french fries I did not ask for? Y'all need to anticipate me!"
posted by Navelgazer at 12:47 PM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Via the magic of The Internet, there is at least one university language lab and one man in North Carolina also singing this.


I do hope someone makes a video.


...Forgive me
parody repeats
so cliche
and so old




I suspect that there is a secret sub-hive of Mefites that are having a contest to determine who among them hates fun the most. Points are scored by comment - mere ennui is a lower score than outrage, bonus if a Meta thread is generated. Creativity is also rewarded. Mentioning your hatred of cat videos is a one-pointer, but an easy way to nickel and dime your way to the top.

I bet the prize is really cool.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:52 PM on September 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


The only valid prescription is that there are no valid prescriptions.
posted by jamjam at 1:10 PM on September 7, 2012


That fellow, for not keeping of accent, deserves hanging. [/grouchy]
posted by Eyebeams at 1:18 PM on September 7, 2012


As an amateur scansionist, I feel compelled to point out that many of those lines scan rather clumsily. For example:

When you crusade for good English, it’s not all doom and gloom you sow
places quite improper iambic stress on that proper noun.

Certainly me appreciation of the author's point is sullied by such unfortunate disregard for proper form. Elsewise, jolly good!
posted by Twang at 1:26 PM on September 7, 2012


As an amateur scansionist, I feel compelled to point out that many of those lines scan rather clumsily
In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin",
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a Javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat",
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery—
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy—
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee.
It wouldn't be true to Gilbert and Sullivan without torturing the scansion a little.
posted by Zed at 1:33 PM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I bet the prize is really cool.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:52 PM on September 7


Ugh. I hate prizes.
posted by joannemerriam at 1:40 PM on September 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Except the G&S scansion works perfectly. The syntax may be strained to the point of torture to get it there, but the scansion works.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:46 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cute! And, wow, I have certainly missed "...Modern Major-General" parodies. They used to be everywhere! Or am I just making that up?

Yes griphus, you are.

Nevertheless I invite Chocolate Pickle to record something and submit it to the arid desert that is the Metafilter Music sub-site so that the MeFiMuMagi may consider its merits and make pronouncements accordingly....
posted by gallus at 1:54 PM on September 7, 2012


Except the G&S scansion works perfectly.

Would you agree that this is how the other final lines of stanzas scan:
      ,              ,               ,              ,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
      ,              ,                ,               ,  
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.
?

'cause that gives us
        ,            ,         ,             ,
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee.
requiring stress on the final syllable of "General", as pronounced by no one anywhere ever.
posted by Zed at 1:58 PM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


A scientist salarian
posted by talitha_kumi at 2:01 PM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


A heroine barbarian
posted by MrVisible at 2:46 PM on September 7, 2012


Pretty good. Pretty, pretty good.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:03 PM on September 7, 2012


Singularitarian

Princeton Seminarian
posted by cthuljew at 4:25 PM on September 7, 2012


This seems like the sort of thread that would be poorer for not having a completely unnecessary pedantic argument about a trivial linguistic matter.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:36 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh huh, Zed, I'd never noticed that one, which doesn't bother me at all (and normally scansion problems bug the shit out of me. )
posted by Navelgazer at 5:48 PM on September 7, 2012


Would code-switching, then, possibly act as the genesis of a creole?

I don't think so, and I'm not aware of case where that has happened. I don't study creoles or language contact, though, so you should take what I say with a grain of salt.

Code-switching looks very different than a pidgin or creole. A person who code-switches is generally fluent in both of the varieties they're mixing. They might use one variety for several sentences, and then suddenly switch to the second variety when triggered by something, like the subject matter.

A prototypical creole grows out of a pidgin that forms when groups that don't speak each other's language come into contact with each other. There are different forms a creole can take, the classic one being that of the vocabulary of the dominant group being combined with the grammar of the subordinate group.

tl;dr code-switching is chunky and croeles are a puree.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:08 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect that there is a secret sub-hive of Mefites that are having a contest to determine who among them hates fun the most.

Okay. I was being too clever there. I was "mocking" a parody by parody -- basically, I was aping off the most common thing that we parody here. It is possible that I was too meta for Metafilter.

I didn't mean it not to be fun. I thought that since I was doing the very same thing that the FPP post did, that it would be read the same.

Fundamentally, parody is meant to be silly and clever. I was trying for that. I will gladly admit that I may have failed there.
posted by eriko at 9:33 PM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


A scientist salarian

Argghh! The people I hang out with sing this version without even knowing what it's parodying. It really chaps my ass.

(Insert unfairly generalizing 12-paragraph rant on gamer nerds being so wrapped up in their single-minded fan culture that references to other arts zip right over their heads, like "grown-up jokes" in children's cartoons)

(Full disclosure: I'm a gamer nerd too, but I'm also a composer/lyricist and a homo so I know the shit out of some showtunes)
posted by jake at 9:15 AM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Aw, Eriko, it was clever. I was too hard on you. It was funny on many levels; working as a parody of the William Carlos Williams meme, and as commentary on worldweary snark.


*awkward Mefi side-hug*
posted by louche mustachio at 11:46 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


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