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I am way too much of a grammar and spelling mole; I have to work mightily to not correct people on the intarwebs when they use incorrect homonyms, use semi-colons willy-nilly, or phonetically spell a wurd.  But I don't, because that's rude, and being rude is a far worse sin than typing "congradulations!".

This, however, makes my heart sing and my brain giggle like a little child seeing a kitten for the first time.

I love grammar humour.  Probably because it reminds me of those terrible teenage years when I tried to get out of awkward questions about why I was doing so badly in English; "because I never bother to turn in my homework" was not a good answer, so I claimed "I can't do grammar".  This led to several excruciatingly uncomfortable lessons on how to parse a sentence, a skill which I have never used as an adult (though "parse" has turned up as a crossword clue every now and then, so I suppose there's that).

Why would this terrible memory make me happy, you ask? Well, thankfully, I never have to go through those years again.  The sense of relief is palpable.  Put your hand on the screen; you can feel it.

Now wipe the fingerprints off your screen.

For my entire high school life, I got lectured on how I was failing at whatever schoolwork I got Ds in.  I rarely got face-to-face praise for anything I did, though I found out years later that my mother was effusive about my smarts to everyone else. Truth be told, school bored me to death (uh, almost - that joke probably isn't very funny when told by someone who tried to kill themselves twice as a teenager), and I simply checked out.  As it turns out, that D I got in World Civilization hasn't done me any harm; dropping out of college to get married was much more influential on my life.

(Kids, stay in school.  Just because I managed to make a great life for myself despite having no degree doesn't mean it's a good idea overall.  I'm just very, very lucky.)

One of the things I try to do in my SCA classes is make the lesson interesting and fun - my high school experiences of learning as boredom have informed my approach as a teacher.  I think too many people look at research (and the quest for authenticity) as a scary chore reminiscent of school, and I want to subvert that notion.  Learning can be great fun, especially self-directed learning.  Most people (adults and children) learn best when they're engaged in the subject, having fun, and able to relate their previous experiences to the information they're being taught.  Hence, in persona classes, we relate people's current political knowledge to the kind of knowledge their persona would have - history isn't dates and timelines, it's stories, gossip, and the stuff your persona cares about.  Say you're a middle-class woman in 1590s London; who cares what's happening in China, or even in Germany?  You're more concerned with the latest gossip about the Queen and Dudley.  Or who's sleeping with whom in the neighbourhood.  Everyday life is a series of stories and vignettes; something that straight history classes fail to express to their students.

Thankfully, learning as an adult is not about rote memorization, it's about following your star.  Self-directed learning means you don't have to go anywhere you don't want.  If your entire interest is left-handed widget-making in 16th century Holland, then the political makeup of the Spanish Royal family in 1460 is not something you're required to know to have a good time in the SCA.  No-one is going to make you do anything.  Isn't that great?

How does this relate to a grammar site?  Well, it makes grammar, something that people look upon with the kind of dread normally reserved for IRS audits, fun.  It's much easier to absorb something when you're entertained by the process of learning.  I always want my students to have a good time; my classes and my handouts hopefully reflect that.  It's not about catching people out in innacuracies, or tests, or humiliating people because they don't know enough about widgets; it's about making something I love sound so appealing that you're going to love it, too.

I love learning new things.  Hopefully, I can make my students love it, too. 


( 12 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Jun. 17th, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
You've seen Bob the Angry Flower, right?
If not, he has his own charming thoughts on apostrophes and the use of "its" and "it's."
Jun. 17th, 2010 12:03 pm (UTC)
If you enjoy history as stories and gossip, you'd probably love one book I discovered quite a few years ago, now. See if you can find The Broadview Book of Medieval Anecdotes compiled by Richard Kay (1988, Lewiston, NY, Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press) -- plenty of amusing stories, including some that made me say, "That king was suffering from heat exhaustion!" (Yeah, I spend too time with chirurgeons, even though I am not one.)

You will probably need to get it via interlibrary loan, though it is in plenty of university libraries. Tell your local librarian that the OCLC number is 19741294 -- knowing that will make their job that much easier. There are also copies for sale via Barnes & Noble online, if you decide you have to own it. (I did -- *way* too much fun.)
Jun. 17th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)
OMG, I love the two dinosaurs in love. *glee*

history isn't dates and timelines, it's stories, gossip, and the stuff your persona cares about....Everyday life is a series of stories and vignettes; something that straight history classes fail to express to their students.

Testify! I don't think I took a single history class in high school or college, yet my personal library is chock full of history books. One of the reasons why I fell in love with Tudor England is that it's better than any soap opera for complicated plots and intrigue.
Jun. 17th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
I just love you.
Jun. 17th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
The grammar site is delightful but I disagree with the comma before 'but' in the sentence about the writer's aunt's hairy knuckles. I'm not a fan of the 'Oxford comma' before 'and' in a simple list either - it adds no meaning and can obfuscate. I teach this by asking students to identify the difference in meaning between the following sentences (actually found in the first and second editions of the same book):

'The author lives with her husband, an Anglican vicar and her two children.'


'The author lives with her husband, an Anglican vicar, and her two children.'

If the Oxford comma is used, there is no difference in meaning between the two sentences; in a more rational method of punctuation the former denotes an interesting menage-a-trois, with a question as to whether the children belong to the vicar or the author.

You may also enjoy a book by M. B. Parkes called 'Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West' which is an excellent history of the subject.

Jun. 18th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
But on the other hand:

This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God.


This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand, and God.

In that case, leaving the Oxford comma out makes the end of the series read like an appositive. (I know, an apocryphal example rather than a real one, but it illustrates the point.)

Personally, I like the Oxford comma. With either rule, you will occasionally end up with constructions that can be misinterpreted--an appositive that looks like a series or a series that looks like a noun and its appositive.
Jun. 20th, 2010 02:34 am (UTC)
I concede that another comma would clear up your sentence, but personally, I would have re-ordered it to make it clear. And, as George Orwell would say, sometimes you can break the rules. But I don't think that the odd exception is sufficient justification for a lot of meaningless commas.

OTOH, there are actually two sorts of punctuation system - syntactic and rhetoric - and the problem is that we tend to use both. The Oxford comma belongs to the latter.
Jun. 17th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
They have a whole line of Truly Beautiful grammar how-tos in the same vein. They make me happy and if they get even one person to use an apostrophe correctly, I'm pleased. Inappropriate apostrophes are at the TOP of my grammar annoyance list and their instructional on the topic is simply hilarious.
Jun. 17th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, and regarding making SCA classes fun - I had a personal victory recently! I usually try to make my research and documentation class funny enough that people don't fall asleep. In the most recent session, however, one woman laughed so hard she cried and I got several notes of thanks after the fact for a "truly memorable" class. :D I maintain there's no topic so dry that you can't make it fun - they might giggle to themselves now and again while they do their research and documentation, but they're much more likely to DO that research and documentation if they think of it as a fun endeavor.
Jun. 17th, 2010 05:06 pm (UTC)
"history isn't dates and timelines, it's stories, gossip, and the stuff your persona cares about"

which explains why my usual SCA class format, which I describe to my students as "We have handouts [and usually props which we hand around] and I wave the handout and blather on in its general vicinity and cover most of it, stop me and ask if there's something you don't understand or want to be sure I cover!" is so popular with most SCAdians.

Edited at 2010-06-17 05:07 pm (UTC)
Jun. 18th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
History is about people, not dates and facts and troop movements (unless those can be related to people). They were born, ate, drank, farted, boinked each other, and eventually died. We have a lot in common with those guys.

I have a PhD in history. Had you talked to me in high school, that would be the absolute last thing you'd predict me having a doctorate in. I found high school history boring and mindnumbing, and had I not stumbled across an honours classics course my freshman year where we talked about Roman culture--including how to analyze Roman coins--I might have kept on with my genetics major.

Instead, I became interested in what Romans ate, wore, read, drew, and scribbled on their walls. It's one reason why I love the series Rome, where the history isn't perfect but the depiction of Roman daily life is about the best I've seen.

Research is fascinating detective work. You're doing a puzzle, and you might not have all the pieces, but you learn what you can and use your skills to recreate the picture.
Jun. 18th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
I had 'who' and 'whom' beaten into me. Literally. I had a rather odd relationship with an English professor (by which I mean a professor of language, not a professor from Britain) which involved being chained up in his basement and forced to learn proper usage. I suspect it was cathartic for him.

( 12 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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