Tag Archives: National grammar day

It’s National Grammar Day: take a short grammar quiz

It’s National Grammar Day! To celebrate the occasion, take Glosso’s short quiz to find out if you know your grammar. Have fun and good luck!

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How many of the eleven images below depict a grammatical mistake? Post your number (no spoilers please) in the comments section; the answer, with explanations, will be published tomorrow. Continue reading

TGIF & WWW (March 7)

spellingbee

Words and language in the news this week (and for the last couple of weeks; Glosso is catching up after a short vacation …): a Hollywood “Insta-bee”; the power of words in online dating; an age-old linguistic battle examined; what’s the difference between ladies and women in sports?; the stories of words; and, last but not least, it was National Grammar Day …

This week’s weird word of the week is dasypygal. See below for what it means.  Continue reading

National Grammar Day (March 4)

grammar

It’s National Grammar Day! In honor of this auspicious occasion, Glossophilia checks out some of the ways grammar is being celebrated online and around the world.

CNN talked with one of its copyeditors, Katherine Dillinger, about what it’s like to have a job in which every day is grammar day … Asked what she thinks are the most common errors? “It’s probably punctuation errors, specifically comma errors with independent and dependent clauses. … And capitalization … people love to capitalize things they shouldn’t.”

mental_floss gives us 7 Sentences That Sound Crazy But Are Still Grammatical, including the wonderfully bizarre “Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.”

The Atlantic explores the issue of teaching grammar: “A century of research shows that traditional grammar lessons—those hours spent diagramming sentences and memorizing parts of speech—don’t help and may even hinder students’ efforts to become better writers. Yes, they need to learn grammar, but the old-fashioned way does not work.”

Business Insider India examines the 9 Most Controversial Rules in English Grammar. Whether or not you can split an infinitive or use like as a conjunction, and why and when you should use whom are just some of those pesky things we all need to know …

fishbat, announcing some language news about one of the big search engines, makes a spelling error in its press release headline: “fishbat Reveals Why Bing Is Cleaning Up It’s Grammar Act”. Oy: fishbat need’s to get it’s act together … Still, what Bing is doing is interesting: “Bing claims that poor spelling and grammar mistakes affect what users see when searching on the platform. Instead, Bing says that content with errors should be penalized. Now, Bing will reward content with zero errors and rank them at the top of search queries.”

Business2Community offers us a list of Top 10 Grammar Tips for Content Creators, advising such practices as avoiding comma splices and knowing the difference between affect and effect. (OK, that’s a spelling issue, but spelling errors can be so much more fun than grammar fails …)

Finally, celebrate National Grammar Day with a host of activities — from quizzes and tips to wallpaper, t-shirts and a special theme song — at its virtual home on QuickandDirtyTips.com. March forth!!

National Grammar Day was established in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG) and author of Things That Make Us [Sic].

National awareness days & weeks: from speech to Scrabble

BetterAmericanSpeechWeek

Happy National Scrabble Day! (It was on this day in 1899 that Alfred Mosher Butts, the game’s inventor, was born.) It’s a day for all glossophiles to celebrate, literally with fun and games. And this month is also one for literary lovers: April is National Poetry Month here in the United States (and in Canada). Started by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, the annual April initiative celebrates poetry and its vital place in American culture, with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets banding together to organize readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other poetic events.

But national awareness days, weeks and months devoted to literary and literacy causes haven’t always been as cheery and celebratory in nature.

Nearly a century ago, in 1918, the Chicago Woman’s Club initiated “Better American Speech Week”, taking its revolutionary mission to “speak the language of your flag” and “watch your speech” into schools across the nation. The movement required the schoolchildren to take a  “Pledge for Children”, promising “not [to] dishonor my country’s speech by leaving off the last syllables of words” and “to make my country’s language beautiful for the many boys and girls of foreign nations who come here to live” (as well as a distinctly racist promise that I don’t think is appropriate to publish here).

Previewing the club’s activities in 1921,  the Literary Digest wrote:

“‘Invest in good speech — it pays daily dividends’ is typical of the slogans that will be used during Better Speech Week of November 6 to arouse the nation to the evils of slovenly speech — careless enunciation, ungrammatical constructions, mispronunciations, the use of slang and poor choice of words. … Mr. H. Addington Bruce, the well-known author, observes that ‘there are men to-day in inferior positions who long ago would have commanded good salaries if they had only taken the trouble to overcome remediable speech defects. Strange how careful people are about dress— how sure that dignity and good taste in dress help to make one’s success in getting on in the world—and at the same time how careless these same people are about speech, which is the dress of the mind.’ ”
In an article published in Primary Education in November 1919, a spokesperson for the club stated: “We are looking forward to a time when all of us shall feel the same pride in fine speech that we have in fine clothes. Very few of us object to an improvement in our wearing apparel; we don’t object to having a finer touring car than our neighbor. Why are we so concerned lest our speech should be a little better than his? Why do we like to pretend that we are so poor in speech? Why are we satisfied with the inferior brand?”

Thankfully we’ve come a long way since the Speech Week of the strident Chicago lady grammarians — although many will and do argue that today’s grammar, spelling or punctuation days are anachronistic, prescriptive, and unforgiving, powered by people and movements that are out of touch with the evolving nature of our dynamic language. Fortunately, awareness days and months tend to be more celebratory than dogmatic these days, and provide useful opportunities for schools and communities to devote time and focus to the fun and art and importance of literacy rather than to its policing.

Here’s a list of the national and international days, weeks and months (that I’m aware of) devoted to literacy and language, poetry and punctuation. Please do let me know of any others that you know of.

January 23:  National Handwriting Day (US)

Jan 26 – Feb 2: National Storytelling Week (UK)

Jan 27: Family Literacy Day (Canada)

Feb 21: International Mother Language Day (world)

March 4: National Grammar Day (US)

March 5: World Spelling Day (world)

March 7: World Book Day (world)

April: National Poetry Month (US & Canada)

April 13: National Scrabble Day (US)

April 18: Poem in Your Pocket Day (US)

April 23: World Book Night (world)

May: National Share-a-story Month (UK)

May 3: World Press Freedom Day (world)

May (varies; week following Memorial Day weekend): Scripps National Spelling Bee (US/world)

June 22: National Flash Fiction Day (UK)

July 8: World Writer’s Day (world)

Sep 8: International Literacy Day (world)

Sep 13: Roald Dahl Day (world)

Sep 24: National Punctuation Day (US)

Sep 26: European Day of Languages (Europe)

October: International School Library Month (world)

Oct 4: National Poetry Day (UK)

Oct 14 – 20: Dyslexia Awareness Week  (UK)

Oct 21: Everybody Writes Day (UK)

November: National Blog Posting Month (world)

November: National Novel Writing Month (UK)

Nov 21: World Hello Day (world)

December: Read a New Book Month (US)

Dec 10: Plain English Day (world)

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Special thanks to National Awareness Days.com for much of this information.

The best grammar blogs

girlattypewriter

Today is National Grammar Day in the US, and to mark the occasion we’re visiting some of the best grammar blogs on the web. This doesn’t claim to be a comprehensive list, and “best” used to describe a blog is about as vague and subjective as the laws of grammar and language are in guiding the ways we write and speak — not to mention the way we interpret, police and abide by those laws, and the way we write about them. Just as there’s an infinite variety of commentary about what goes into our mouths that is about as diverse as the culinary fare it describes, so there’s a seemingly endless choice of writers — and writings — about what comes out of our mouths. Whether delivered by an expert or a casual observer, presented as a serious study or thrown into cyberspace as a lighthearted jab, whether complaining or rejoicing, teaching or deriding, assuming airs and graces or slumming it with slang, citing the historical linguists or poking fun at the greengrocer’s apostrophe, grammar blogs come in all shapes and sizes.  Witty, serious, provocative, instructive, academic, thought-provoking, enlightening, irreverent — and any combination of the above, there’s something to suit every mood and taste. But what they all have in common — and what presumably motivates anyone who bothers to devote any time to writing about grammar — is a profound and fiercely protective love of our mother tongue. Like parents of teenagers, we try hard to exercise restraint, tolerance and good humor in the face of broken rules and astonishingly bad behavior; to set boundaries that we know will be pushed, resisted and ignored; and to pick our battles carefully. But at the end of the day we’re brimming with love, pride and awe as we watch our children evolve into adults, and this is how we feel about our language as we watch it bend and adapt to the changing needs of the mouths and keyboards it serves: we love it dearly, unconditionally, and that’s why we write about it.

Here are some of Glossophilia’s favorite blogs, in no particular order, with the blogs’ own short descriptions and author bios where available, and a note on their general ‘vibe’. (Note: I would describe most, if not all, of the blogs here as geeky — and I mean that as a compliment. It seems to be a requisite quality of any good grammar blog. And blogs with words like n-gram tagged in 64-point type don’t qualify for this list: sorry!) Please tell us about any other great grammar blogs out there.

 

Harmless Drudgery  is run by Kory Stamper, a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster who spends all day reading citations and trying to define words like “Monophysite” and “bodice ripper.” Vibe: Wide-ranging, informal/accessible, relevant, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Sentence First  is an Irishman’s blog about the English language: its usage, grammar, styles, literature, history, and quirks. Stan Carey is a scientist and writer turned editor and swivel-chair linguist. Vibe: Wide-ranging and eclectic subject matter, accessible and informal.

How To Write Badly Well has dispensed bad advice to over half a million visitors since 2009 and is now also a live comedy show. Writer Joel Stickley is the current Poet Laureate for Lincolnshire (UK) and a writer in residence for the Writers in Prison Network. His work has been featured on BBC One, Radio 4, Radio 3, Channel 4 and in various newspapers and magazines. Vibe: witty, ironic, irreverent, thoughtful.

Grammar Girl :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™ Has tips and grammar exercises to help you learn and remember all the grammar rules on punctuation, word choice, and more. Mignon Fogarty is a former magazine and technical writer, and an entrepreneur.  Vibe: Instructive, accessible, straightforward, helpful.

Grammarist is a blog devoted to English grammar and usage. Team of unnamed editors/contributors. Vibe: a straightforward compendium of usage, spelling, grammar, style, words and phrases. Vibe: Instructive, serious, comprehensive.

Mr. Verb  Language changes.  Deal with it.  Revel in it. Various contributors. Vibe: Eclectic, curious, quirky, relevant, mix of serious and irreverent.

The Diacritics write about language in our world: daily usage, current events, pop culture, historical change, and recent research. John Stokes and Sandeep Prasanna are two law students (and former linguistics undergrads) who think language is awesome. Vibe: Detailed/well-researched, eclectic, serious, and relevant.

World Wide Words  tries to record at least some part of the shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, the background to words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech. Michael Quinion writes on international English from a British viewpoint. Vibe: Serious, detailed, expert, informative.

The Proper English Foundation Proper English is a subjective concept which we have taken “to da extreme”. Unknown contributors. Vibe: Parodic, ironic, slightly acerbic, very quirky and eclectic, sometimes downright hilarious.

Grammarphobia  Grammar, etymology, usage, and more, brought to you by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman. Between them, they have written five books about the English language and have more than half a century of experience as writers and editors. Vibe: Relevant, expert, informative, eclectic, accessible.

Separated by a common language Observations on British and American English by an American linguist in the UK. M Lynne Murphy is Reader* in Linguistics & English Language at the University of Sussex; made the shift from expat to dual citizen; teaches & researches semantics, pragmatics and psycholinguistics. Vibe: Detailed but accessible; expert perspective on the endlessly fascinating differences between British and American English.

Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar An online journal in which members of The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar document their noble efforts. Vibe: Funny, lighthearted critique of signage (and other) crimes.

The virtual linguist written by Susan Harvey, or Susan Purcell, depending on who I’m with, where I am, and what I’m writing. I’m a linguist in both senses of the word. I speak and write on English linguistics and I know other languages – French, German and Russian, in my case. Vibe: Detailed, curious, knowledgeable, range of subject matter.

English Language and Usage – Stack Exchange a collaboratively edited question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Vibe: Serious, instructive, expert, helpful.

Throw Grammar from the Train Notes from a recovering nitpicker. Jan Freeman wrote The Word, a weekly Boston Globe column, for 14 years; was an editor at the Globe from 1981 to 2001; and wrote the book Ambrose Bierce’s ‘Write It Right’: The Celebrated Cynic’s Language Peeves Deciphered, Appraised, and Annotated for 21st-Century Readers (Walker Books). Vibe: Relevant, informative, eclectic, well-researched.

Wordlady is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Katherine Barber, “Canada’s Word Lady”, is a best-selling author and media personality. Vibe: Detailed, informative, relevant, eclectic, knowledgeable.

Peter Harvey, linguist is a blog about language and languages, and about Lavengro Books for learners and teachers of English. Peter Harvey is an author, linguist and English-language teacher.   Vibe: Serious, expert, knowledgeable, relevant.

Real Grammar  Grammar, that is to say, the way in which a language, particularly English, is constructed, is the primary topic of this site. However, I cannot promise that I will not from time to time stray into other areas. Barrie England is an Oxford graduate in English Language and Literature and is qualified as a teacher of English to foreign learners. He has spent most of his career in government service, much of it abroad. Vibe: Timely, serious, expert, relevant.