97 posts tagged with grammar.
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“But not everyone prefers to hyphenate...”

Why Does Moby-Dick (Sometimes) Have a Hyphen? [The Smithsonian]
When the book was published in England, it bore that straightforward title. In a historical note to a scholarly edition of the book, Melville scholar G. Thomas Tanselle writes that Melville’s brother, Allan, made a last-minute change to the title of the American edition. “[Melville] has determined upon a new title,” his brother wrote. “It is thought here that the new title will be a better selling title…Moby-Dick is a legitimate title for the book.” The American edition went to press, hyphen intact, despite the fact that the whale within was only referred to with a hyphen one time. Hyphenated titles would have been familiar to Victorian-era readers, who were used to “fairy-tales” and “year-books.” Even Melville enjoyed a good hyphen now and then, as the title of his book White-Jacket proves. But it’s still unclear whether Melville, who didn’t use a hyphen inside the book, chose a hyphen for the book’s title or whether his brother punctuated the title incorrectly.
posted by Fizz on Jan 16, 2016 - 46 comments

A post about grammar and pro sports. What could go wrong?

Footbal fans ,NOT, writ, so gud. Aficionados of basketball, however, are erudite. Baseball fans are ok. Grammarly has graded a number of comments from sports related websites for grammar and spelling, then tabulated the results by league, team and city.
posted by jacquilynne on Dec 16, 2015 - 17 comments

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.
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Oct 27, 2015 - 30 comments

“This was a brilliant innovation,”

Unfinished story… [The Guardian] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Oct 23, 2015 - 4 comments

Strunk & White: Grammar Police

BEAT COP
It’s over here, detectives. The body was found about an hour ago.

STRUNK
Use the active voice, rookie.

Strunk & White: Grammar Police (The Millions)
posted by salix on Sep 23, 2015 - 44 comments

correctness rests upon usage; all usage is relative

"What of those grammar rules that were entirely dreamt up in an age of moral prescriptivism, reflecting nothing of historical or literary usage, to encourage the poor English language to be more like an entirely different (and entirely dead) language, namely Latin? Wait, which rules are those? It seems pretty crazy but the popular grammar rules familiar to most of us may in fact be completely fake and have no basis in linguistic reality. The English language didn't change to make those rules obsolete, they were simply fictional from the start." || Dear Pedants: Your Fave Grammar Rule is Probably Fake, by Chi Luu.
posted by divined by radio on Aug 25, 2015 - 170 comments

There Is No ‘Proper English’

There Is No ‘Proper English’. From Oliver Kamm of The Times:
It’s a perpetual lament: The purity of the English language is under assault. These days we are told that our ever-texting teenagers can’t express themselves in grammatical sentences. The media delight in publicizing ostensibly incorrect usage. A few weeks ago, pundits and columnists lauded a Wikipedia editor in San Jose, Calif., who had rooted out and changed no fewer than 47,000 instances where contributors to the online encyclopedia had written “comprised of” rather than “composed of.” Does anyone doubt that our mother tongue is in deep decline?
Well, for one, I do. It is well past time to consign grammar pedantry to the history books.
[more inside] posted by Richard Holden on Mar 14, 2015 - 81 comments

'the jingle allegedly contained a grammatical error.'

Why Academic Writing Stinks, by Steven Pinker
The curse of knowledge is a major reason that good scholars write bad prose. It simply doesn’t occur to them that their readers don’t know what they know—that those readers haven’t mastered the patois or can’t divine the missing steps that seem too obvious to mention or have no way to visualize an event that to the writer is as clear as day. And so they don’t bother to explain the jargon or spell out the logic or supply the necessary detail. Obviously, scholars cannot avoid technical terms altogether. But a surprising amount of jargon can simply be banished, and no one will be the worse for it.
Pinker's new book, a style guide, The Sense of the Style, has ten grammar rules it's OK to break (sometimes). He talks to Edge on Writing in the 21st Century, which includes the occasional fMRI.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 1, 2014 - 67 comments

GSSSACPM

"Though red big barns and big red barns are semantically identical, the second kind pleases our ears more." The Secret Rules of Adjective Order. [more inside]
posted by We had a deal, Kyle on Aug 7, 2014 - 64 comments

An ornithologist, an editor, & a VP walk into a conference room...

"We ornithologists, with our Important Capitals, continue to look Curiously Provincial" : copy-editors and ornithologists fight a very pilkunnussija-esque war over conventions of bird names.
posted by divabat on Jul 12, 2014 - 15 comments

Fear and Loathing of the English Passive

Geoffrey Pullum talks about the passive voice [pdf]. (via) [more inside]
posted by nangar on Jul 10, 2014 - 37 comments

Automatic Supercut Script

Videogrep is a python script that searches through dialog in videos and then cuts together a new video based on what it finds. Basically, it’s a command-line “supercut” generator. The code is on github
posted by The Whelk on Jun 20, 2014 - 15 comments

You won't believe what happened next. Because you lack faith.

Life Sentences: The Grammar of Clickbait
posted by oceanjesse on Apr 21, 2014 - 21 comments

(you) | Call | Me \ Ishmael

The first sentences of notable novels. Diagrammed. From Pop Chart Lab (previously).
posted by davidjmcgee on Feb 26, 2014 - 50 comments

You're reading this because procrastination.

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet. The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself. I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun."
posted by scody on Nov 19, 2013 - 163 comments

He is not literally a piece of excrement.

WWE wrestler CM Punk wants to help you improve your grammar. Some language NSFW.
posted by Shepherd on Aug 9, 2013 - 39 comments

"We use semicolons every day."

;
posted by Fizz on May 30, 2013 - 43 comments

International Art English

"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 26, 2013 - 45 comments

Literally?

"10 Words You Literally Didn’t Know You Were Getting Wrong" [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 19, 2012 - 154 comments

Enough with the ad homonyms

Literacy Privilege: How I Learned to Check Mine Instead of Making Fun of People’s Grammar on the Internet. Also Part 2 and Part 3.
posted by divabat on Dec 12, 2012 - 130 comments

Interrobang!

13 obscure punctuation marks that we should be using...
posted by Renoroc on Oct 11, 2012 - 113 comments

A sea of words

Six years ago, New Dorp High School on Staten Island, NY, had a 40% dropout rate, and more than 80% of freshmen were reading below grade level. In spring 2013, the school expects an 80% graduation rate. What happened? New Dorp decided to teach its students how to write. [more inside]
posted by catlet on Sep 30, 2012 - 83 comments

"With respect to an equivalence defined by (some feature)"

The Award For Nerdiest Preposition Goes To ... [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 10, 2012 - 116 comments

His tooth was pulling out

...it's true that the progressive passive first appeared in the English language in the second half of the 18th century, replacing what historians of English grammar call the passival.
via Slate
posted by ancillary on Jun 3, 2012 - 18 comments

We're watching your comments for correct comma usage.

"Who knew people were so interested in commas?" Ben Yagoda has written three NYT pieces on correct comma usage: Fanfare for the Comma Man, The Most Comma Mistakes, and Some Comma Questions.
posted by hypotheticole on May 26, 2012 - 62 comments

With eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive

O dear Miss Mutch, put down your crutch,
And leave us to crack a bottle.

A guy like I weren't meant to die
On the grave of Aristotle.

O leave us dance on the dead romance
Of the small but clear footnote.

The infinitive with my fresh-honed shiv
I will split from heel to throat.
(h/t languagehat).
posted by Diablevert on Apr 30, 2012 - 19 comments

mistakes were not made

Passive Voice Day 2012: "It has again been decided that April 27th will be passive voice day. Fun will be had by everybody as the passive voice is used for tweets, blogs, and casual conversation." (2011) Language Log offers kudos to a well-crafted passive announcement and provides further reading on confusion over avoiding the passive (includes a list of links to Language Log posts on the passive).
posted by flex on Apr 26, 2012 - 64 comments

That week-old hot dog is nauseous.

20 Common Grammar Mistakes That (Almost) Everyone Gets Wrong
posted by dunkadunc on Jan 31, 2012 - 182 comments

My Word

The Corpus of American Historical English is a searchable index of word usage in American printed material from 1810 to 2009. Powerful complex searches allow you to trace the appearance and evolution of words and phrases and even specific grammatical constructions, see trends in frequency, and plenty more. Start with the 5-Minute Tour.
posted by Miko on Jan 7, 2012 - 23 comments

Phenomenology of Error

It has long been noted that style manuals and other usage advice frequently contain unintended examples of the usage they condemn. (This is sometimes referred to as Hartman's law or Muphry's law - an intentional misspelling of Murphy.) Starting from this observation, Joseph Williams' paper The Phenomenology of Error offers an examination of our selective attention to different types of grammatical and usage errors that goes beyond the descriptivism-prescriptivism debate. (alternate pdf link for "The Phenomenology of Error") [more inside]
posted by nangar on Nov 28, 2011 - 17 comments

"The next time you hear a bird chirping outside your window, you might think twice about what’s going on inside his little birdbrain."

Are birds’ tweets grammatical? [Scientific American] But are the rules of grammar unique to human language? Perhaps not, according to a recent study, which showed that songbirds may also communicate using a sophisticated grammar—a feature absent in even our closest relatives, the nonhuman primates. Kentaro Abe and Dai Watanabe of Kyoto University performed a series of experiments to determine whether Bengalese finches expect the notes of their tunes to follow a certain order.
posted by Fizz on Nov 3, 2011 - 31 comments

The Fruit of Dionysuis Thrax

Best Grammar Blog of 2011 has been announced - A Clil To Climb. The competition was intense.
posted by unliteral on Oct 25, 2011 - 23 comments

(The) Kindle

The Kindle is changing its name to ... Kindle. W(T)F?
posted by anothermug on Sep 13, 2011 - 160 comments

Challenging Chompsky

In the late Sixties and early Seventies several experiments were begun to test whether or not a non-human primate could construct a sentence. Several species were involved in these various experiments including the chimpanzees Washoe and Nim, a gorilla named Koko, and later in the Eighties work began with a bonobo named Kanzi. While great progress was made in teaching these primates a vocabulary, it would be difficult to see any of these experiments as a success. And all of these projects raised important questions about the ethics of such experiments. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Aug 20, 2011 - 39 comments

Norms and Peeves

Language Log lists all their previous articles about prescriptivism vs. descriptivism (or at least a lot of them), plus a link to Geoffrey Pullum's Ideology, Power, and Linguistic Theory [pdf].
posted by nangar on May 16, 2011 - 29 comments

Direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid.

The "King of English", H.W. Fowler wrote A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Although "modern linguists are almost by definition incapable of understanding the function of a book like Fowler’s Dictionary", the "half-educated Englishman of literary proclivities" who just wants to know: "Can I say so-&-so?’" may now buy the classic first edition of the Dictionary again. An earlier book, The King's English, is free for anyone seeking advice on Americanisms, Saxon words, the spot plague, archaism or split infinitives.
posted by TheophileEscargot on Mar 3, 2011 - 27 comments

"It's only ugly because it's new and you don't like it."

When asked to join in a "let's persuade this supermarket chain to get rid of their 'five items or less' sign" I never join in. [more inside]
posted by heyho on Oct 20, 2010 - 78 comments

national punctuation day

did you know its national punctuation day again
posted by Avenger50 on Sep 24, 2010 - 58 comments

Dead languages

The English language, which arose from humble Anglo-Saxon roots to become the lingua franca of 600 million people worldwide and the dominant lexicon of international discourse, is dead. It succumbed last month at the age of 1,617 after a long illness. It is survived by an ignominiously diminished form of itself.
posted by caddis on Sep 24, 2010 - 147 comments

Motivated Grammar

I’m not advocating the abolition of grammar, but rather its justification. I’m not quite sure what that will entail in the end, but I’m starting out by pointing out grammar rules that just don’t make sense, don’t work, or don’t have any justification. All I want is for our rules of grammar to be well-motivated.
posted by Joe Beese on Sep 10, 2010 - 90 comments

Glitz, Glamor, Gams, and Grammar

"When I was in New York, I fell in love with some wild ideas in the shape of a woman. An English teacher, who was hard, but hard like a job I never wanted to end. But to her, I wasn't nothin' but a day at the office. That's what they call a Double Negative."
posted by redsparkler on Aug 3, 2010 - 34 comments

That's not me. That's Balzac.

In order to master the correct usage of lie and lay, David Friedman tracked every use and mis-use of the two in the series Mad Men.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! on Aug 3, 2010 - 26 comments

Its their principal pet peeve

Learn Your Damn Homophones
posted by silby on Jul 28, 2010 - 153 comments

Explicit writings you should not read at work or anywhere else you can could into trouble for reading extremely explicit blog posts

Not Safe For Work writings by Chelesa G. Summers are below the fold. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jun 22, 2010 - 11 comments

The Social Psychology of Linguistic Naming and Shaming.

Although people have been worried about correct speech for thousands of years, it's apparently the status anxieties of modern societies that create the market for usage advice in which artificial "rules" can spring up and spread, independent of the genuine norms of speaking and writing. [via]
posted by rebent on Jun 18, 2010 - 78 comments

Open Source Language Checking Technology

After The Deadline is an open source spell/style/grammar checker from Automattic for WordPress, Firefox and other stuff. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on May 3, 2010 - 28 comments

Are you happy to see me or is that just a dictionary in your pocket?

In search of the world’s hardest language
posted by Gyan on Jan 3, 2010 - 148 comments

Na'vi

Paul Frommer explains the Na'vi language he created for Avatar
posted by Dumsnill on Dec 19, 2009 - 51 comments

Make Your Own Academic Sentence

Pootwattle the Virtual Academic(TM) says: The conceptual logic of millennial hedonism is often found in juxtaposition with, if not in direct opposition to, the sublimation of difference. [more inside]
posted by caddis on Nov 20, 2009 - 12 comments

Do not use "nonprofit" as an adjective. Use "broke."

Fake AP Stylebook is making Twitter worthwhile. (Single-link Twitter post. But damn, really; it's funny).
posted by emjaybee on Oct 23, 2009 - 66 comments

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