Laughing WITH – not AT – National Grammar Day, USA

Although we in the non-USA regions of the English-speaking world may be festering in our glottal-stops and other abuse of the English language, today – March 4th – is National Grammar Day in the USA. Now before English-traditionalist Brits start throwing the toys out of their prams, remember that whether Brits like it or not the Yanks have kinda commandeered English to use for themselves.

Laughing WITH - not AT - National Grammar Day, USA

And it really is time you took another look at the lunacy of the Boston Tea Party and got over it, while we Canadians sit on our snowbanks and smirk while freezing off various parts of our lower bodies…

So, let’s celebrate National Grammar Day with our fellow English speakers in the USA!

According to Wikipedia, National Grammar Day is observed in the United States on March 4. Designated in 2008, the National Grammar Day was established by Martha Brockenbrough, author of “Things That Make Us [Sic]” (2008) and founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

And according to a colleague of mine, Maryland-based John E. McIntyre writing recently in The Baltimore Sun … to commemorate it appropriately, you may want to prepare yourself:

Item: Among the many species of error, typographical errors are minor fauna. Going online to trumpet that you have spotted someone’s typo is rather like the contestants in Monty Python’s Upper-Class Twit of the Year competition firing shotguns at rabbits that have been staked out.

Item: Before you opine publicly on some rule of grammar, take a moment to check “The Peeververein Canon” to make sure that you are not, in fact, endorsing a superstition, shibboleth, zombie rule, or empty crotchet.

Item: If you take grammar and usage seriously, National Grammar Day is a good time to inform yourself more fully by having a look-see at Stan Carey’s posts at Macmillan Dictionary Blog, Jonathon Owen’s Arrant Pedantry blog, and Tom Freeman’s Stroppy Editor posts, among others. (Each has links to other sites.)

Item: Always, always, always keep in mind Murphy’s Law: “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.”

Item: Take to heart what H.L. Mencken wrote in The American Language: “The error of … viewers with alarm is in assuming that there is enough magic in pedagogy to teach ‘correct’ English to the plain people. There is, in fact, too little; even the fearsome abracadabra of Teachers College, Columbia, will never suffice for the purpose. The plain people will always make their own language, and the best that grammarians can do is to follow after it, haltingly, and often without much insight. Their lives would be more comfortable if they ceased to repine over it, and instead gave it some hard study. It is very amusing, and not a little instructive.”

Laughing WITH - not AT - national grammar day usa

And what key lessons can we learn from National Grammar Day in the USA?

You might find some of these points helpful…

  1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
  4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat)
  6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
  7. Be more or less specific.
  8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  10. No sentence fragments.
  11. Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
  12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  14. One should NEVER generalize.
  15. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
  16. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  19. The passive voice is to be ignored.
  20. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
  21. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
  22. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  23. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
  24. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  25. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it  correctly.
  26. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
  27. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  28. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  29. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  30. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  31. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out

What would you like to add to our US National Grammar Day deliberations?

Please share…

Image 1 thanks to Dump-A-Day

Image 2 thanks to Art-of-Destruction