Friday, March 04, 2011

Skip the parade

It's National Grammar Day, and what are you doing about it?

Allow us to suggest that you skip the parade, take a pass on the ritual which-burning, and Just Say No to any party invitations for which you start by denouncing Those Kids and Their Damn iVocabulary. Instead, take a long walk with your sweetie in the woods and admire the gentle wh- movement of the hardwoods. Introduce some undergraduates to the austere beauty of the coathanger diagram. Don't cringe when you're offered "a free small curly fries" in return for documentation of a hat trick*; show me why it's the same sort of noun phrase as "the next speaker of the House."

But don't -- do we have to rub it in? -- be the goofbag who gives "grammar" a bad name by conflating it with the sort of obsessive hyphenation that leads to "High-school graduation rates jump." Grammar wants you to be clear. It doesn't want you to be silly.

We'll be celebrating up here, of course. Czarina will be plowing through some grading toward an incoming freelance project. I'll be sitting around the lab looking at things "grammar" seems to do in real life. Bernie's playing stalk-and-release with a gingham mouse** even as we speak. But we're not going to be sticking random boneheaded hyphens into perfectly good headlines. That's a hell of a way to spend a holiday.

* Not likely tonight, if you're scoring along at home.
** They're like 79 cents at the pet supply store on Woodward. Amazing. You need more gingham mice in your life.

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Anonymous Picky said...

But what if school graduation rates were (a) high and (b) jumping?

4:36 PM, March 04, 2011  
Blogger Helen said...

Hmmm. I beg to differ. A boneheaded hyphen would be, "Graduation rates jump in high-school." That's just wrong. "High school" is common enough that it can be used as a modifier without hyphenation; other pairings might be more ambiguous. If you want silly, here's a really, if-you-want-to-be-silly hyphen, just for fun.

6:45 PM, March 04, 2011  

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