Monday, March 25, 2013

Grammar Madness: Round 2



When I told my friend that I pitted the question mark against the exclamation point for the first round of grammar madness, he chided me for choosing two seed one punctuation marks.

But, surprisingly, it was really no contest. The question mark totally kicked the question mark’s ass. 

The exclamation point was condemned for being “all POP and no substance” and “way too enthusiastic.” It was described as being “like a panting dog who slobbers all over you.” Some even replace the exclamation point with all caps followed by a period.

The question mark, on the other hand, was heralded as being “the more versatile of the two” and “equally good on offense and defense.” According to another comment, it “ensures at least some thought will take place.” It’s even popular with the youth: a fifteen-year-old said that “it actually does something useful.”

So now for the next round:the question mark versus the colon. 

P.S. If you ever google an image for the colon, I recommend you include the words "punctuation mark" in the search. Especially if you've just eaten.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Grammar Madness


Ever since I was in college, I have always felt left out of March Madness. I went to Cal, and I remember that everyone was super excited about March Madness, and I was too embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what they were talking about. I was an English major; I knew the Ides of March, Middlemarch, and the March sisters, but I knew nothing about college basketball.

I still don’t. 

But as I was listening to the radio this morning and everyone was going on and on about March Madness, those old college insecurities about feeling left out resurfaced. I made a decision: I want in! 

However, there’s not time for me to properly educate myself about the finer points of basketball (i.e., goals, home runs and touchdowns), so I’ve decided to create a March Madness of my own: Grammar Madness. I want to determine the best punctuation mark. We’ll start with a competition between the exclamation point and the question mark.

 Which one wins, and why?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Have Your Pi and English Too

Similar to how we tend to either identify with Christina or Britney or with cake or pie, we tend to think of ourselves as either a math person or an English person. 

This is hard for me because I consider both “Genie in a Bottle” and “Hit Me Baby One More Time” to be my jams, and if I were presented with a slice of flourless chocolate cake and rhubarb pie, I would shove them both in my mouth with equal gusto.
And the truth is that I enjoy calculating and conjugating.

I am thinking about this today because it’s National Pi Day (3/14), and just because I would be considered more of an English person, I don’t want to be left out of any Pi Day festivities.

Plus, I don’t think math and English are really as opposite as people think. 

English is largely considered to be the wilder of the two while math is considered the more rational. To put it in Sweet Valley High terms, Jessica would be English and Elizabeth would be math. And, of course, there are aspects of English that are wild and creative, but it can also be quite mathematical. Writing essays actually reminds me of the proofs I used to have to do in geometry: in order to successfully prove the thesis, one must logically present the supporting points. Also, I remember the phrase “if and only if” from math, and I tell my students that we use a comma before and “if and only if” the and joins two independent clauses: 

Comma: To celebrate Pi Day, I want to measure a circle’s diameter and circumference, and I also want to divide the circumference by the diameter.

No comma: To celebrate Pi Day, I want to measure a circle’s diameter and circumference and divide the circumference by the diameter.

And to top it off, math isn't always a stick in the mud. I know for a fact that Pi is totally irrational!

Do you consider yourself a math person or an English person? Or a little bit of both (manglish?)?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Your Text Is on Fire

(Title of post is intended to be read to the tune of the Kings of Leon's song.)

The picture you see above is of an essay header I received today.

There are several issues I have with this header. First of all, why isn't my name capitalized? Second of all, the header is not in MLA format. Third of all,I don't actually teach a class called English combustion; I teach English Composition. 

But, most important, now I totally want to teach a class called English Combustion

What do you think the class entails?