Blogs

19 Sep 2009

Avast

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Arrrh, me hearies! Today be Talk Like A Pirate Day, on which day I be wantin' to answer a question that gentlemen o' fortune all o'er the briny blue ha' been askin' theyselves: what be the part of speech of avast?
Topic: 
30 Jul 2009

WTF?

Submitted by Karl Hagen
So the Top 100 Language Blog list done by Lexiophiles and bab.la came out today. Alas, I didn't make the cut, but there were some more surprising omissions, especially Language Log. Who in their right mind leaves Language Log off a list of 100 top language blogs? Or even a list of the top 10. Give me a break! Did everyone think that LL was a sure bet and so gave their vote elsewhere?
9 Jul 2009
I've written before about how preparation material for the SAT writing section sometimes presents an over-simplified view of grammar that can get you into linguistic trouble. Here's another case in point: The following question appears in a Kaplan practice SAT (12 Practice Tests for the SAT 2009 Edition, p. 589):
Although talent may be a crucial element on the road to fame, it is difficult to succeed without a highly developed work ethic.
8 Jul 2009

That's so fail

Submitted by Karl Hagen
While adults are just starting to notice, usually with disapproval, "fail" used as a noun (as in "That's an epic fail."), my students are already racing ahead and converting it to an adjective.

We can tell that "fail" has become an adjective because it can be preceded by the quantifying adverb so, as in "I'm so fail." [Cf. I'm so happy (adj.), but *I'm so student (n.)].

26 Jun 2009

Those crazy biologists

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Anyone who thinks scientists don't have a sense of humor only knows scientists through their movie stereotypes. Still, it takes a certain daring to get this into the title of a major peer-reviewed journal: Campos-Arceiz, A. 2009. Shit happens (to be useful)! Use of elephant dung as habitat by amphibians. Biotropica doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2009.00525.x And no, this is not a spoof. Here's the abstract.
22 Jun 2009
The Grammarphobia question for June 22 addresses our old friend "none is" vs. "none are."

Q: As an SAT writing instructor, I am intrigued by your Grammar Myths page, which debunks the rule that "none" is always singular. Since the College Board follows this rule, we have thousands of students learning to write sentences like “None of the chickens is hatched.” What do you think about that?

10 Jun 2009

Prescriptive Fetishes

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Discussing the people's understanding of the split infinitive, Fowler said, "Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority, and are a happy folk, to be envied by most of the minority classes."

Fowler's dictum holds for many other prescriptive rules of grammar. In many cases, ignorance is bliss. Your writing will probably be better, because you're not twisting yourself into knots trying to avoid some illusory error, and you won't waste your time thinking about other people's grammar when you should be attending to their meaning.

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