9 Feb 2007

Grammar, usage, and education

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Sally Thomason has been championing a kind of humane prescriptivism, which is surely a bit unusual for the crew at Language Log, but I have a great deal of sympathy.

In the context of language-arts education, a certain prescriptivism is unavoidable. There is a written standard, like it or not, and there are social consequences to violating the standard in certain contexts.

11 Jan 2007


Submitted by Karl Hagen
This is a word that deserves more attention. Two different senses show up in different on-line dictionaries. The Urban Dictionary defines it as a small piece of excrement floating alone in a toilet bowl. That's a fairly prosaic instance of derivation, just the dimminutive -let tacked on to crap.
26 Dec 2006

Holiday Reading

Submitted by Karl Hagen
For Christmas, Sherina (uxorum optima!) gave me a book that has been on my wish list for a while now: Error and the Academic Self by Seth Lerer (who was my undergraduate advisor years ago at Princeton). Of course I immediately sat down and read the first two chapters, and probably would have finished the book if I hadn't had to cook Christmas dinner. Lerer writes about the connection between error and errancy among scholars, and although I have left academia, I certainly have been errant (in the sense of intellectually wandering). I've been spending my free time working on some behind-the-scenes architecture for this site. I hope to roll out the results in a week or two, once I've managed to debug everything.
11 Nov 2006

Lies my teacher told me

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Grammar teachers (and I mean those who are actually teaching grammar, not grammar-school teachers) could pick up a few pointers from math teachers. Thanks to a recent post on The Quick and the Ed, I learned about a great book by Liping Ma on teaching elementary mathematics. I've just ordered the book from Amazon, so all I've had a chance to read is the snippet available on the search-inside pages, but I immediately ran across some very interesting remarks that seem directly relevant to grammar pedagogy.
29 Oct 2006

A Bush-League Mind

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Because it's political season, lists of Bushisms like this one seem to be in vogue now. (I found the link to it on the front page of digg.com.)

Mark Liberman at Language Log has been at pains to point out how Bush, because of the stereotype that he is a mediocre intelligence and perhaps suffers some cognitive impairment from all those years of hard partying before he got sober, gets a bad rap for things that escape attention when they come out of the mouths of other people in public life.


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