18 Oct 2015

Before Diagrams

Submitted by Karl Hagen
The earliest work to feature sentence diagrams is normally conceded to be S. W. Clark's Practical Grammar (1847). A decade before Clark, however, Frederick A. P. Barnard, who would go on to become president of Columbia College, and for whom Barnard College was named, wrote a very interesting work that is the earliest significant use of graphical symbols to annotate grammatical analysis that I'm aware of.
4 Mar 2015

Lord Reginald and Proper Grammar

Submitted by Karl Hagen
In "honor" of grammar day (an event which profoundly annoys me because it always brings out people's pet peeves about grammar, I present the following Punch cartoon (cited in Richard Bailey's Nineteenth-Century English, showing that middle-class insecurity about language has been around for a long time. It's the governess, not the rich kid, who cares about "proper" speech. She's the one who is socially insecure, after all.
4 Jan 2015

A Real Grammar Quiz

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I hate Internet grammar quizzes. Most of them are heavy on matters of punctuation (e.g., its vs. it's), spelling (e.g., there vs. their), and word choice (e.g., less vs. fewer) but light on measuring one's explicit knowledge of grammatical structure. And what grammatical assertions they do make are often wrong, or at least highly debatable. Their primary function seems to be to stroke the egos of those who want to be assured that they are part of the educated elite.
Backwards navigationAllowed
9 Nov 2014
TL;DR: Your name isn't worth any points.

The question comes from the flip remark that, because the minimum score on the SAT is 600 (200 each for the Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing components), you get 600 points for just for filling in your name. In point of fact, this claim is untrue on several levels.

First, if you merely fill in your name on an SAT score sheet and submit it with no questions filled in, College Board interprets the lack of answers as a request to cancel your scores, so you will get no results at all.

2 Oct 2014
Over the last few weeks, there has been a spate of news items about various conservatives bashing the College Board's framework for the AP U.S. History test, culminating in the Colorado students who have been protesting their school board's attempts to change the AP curriculum.


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