Tuesday, April 7, 2015

G is for Grammar

I went to school back in the days when we diagrammed sentences and English was a separate subject from Reading. In other words, we spent a lot of time on parts of speech, sentence structure, and grammar in general. Back then, I was pretty good at it. Just give me the rules and I could apply them in almost any situation.

However, time has passed and the rules have changed. Or at least, not many people are following the rules as I learned them. That goes for professionals on TV as well as the newspapers. That goes for books and the everyday educated person. I realize that language grows and changes over time, but this evolution has left me confused.

As I have mentioned in this blog before, I don't understand today's trend of the fewer the commas the better. I'm not sure when this started, but several years ago I was in a seminar with a publisher (and as a geologist, I have no idea why I was there.) and I heard an interesting thing. At that point in time, paper was very expensive and book publishers were feeling the pinch. One of the ways they were dealing with this, besides making the margins narrower, was leaving out all "unnecessary" commas. It seemed rather silly to me but she said in the long run, it was saving them money.

Because I see so many differences in the way language is used today, not only am I unsure, I'm forgetting what I used to know.  For example, when is it that you capitalize a season? When do you use the word healthy and when do you use the word healthful. I used to know. However, today I see seasons capitalized in an almost random way. (I tend to follow this method.) Also, I've observed that healthy is used in almost all circumstances whether it is an adjective or adverb. (I too am guilty of this.) I think that healthful may become a thing of the past as language evolution continues.

A couple of other changes that are on the horizon are take/bring and less/fewer. Have you noticed that no one uses take anymore? They are always bringing something whether the object is coming toward them or going away from them. And the one that is an assault to my ears every time I hear it-people using less when they mean fewer. (Less is an amount that can't be divided into discreet things. Fewer measures something that has discreet things that can be counted.) I fear, too, that these uses as I learned them will become a thing of the past in not so distant future. And the list goes on.

However, in the meantime, I'm happy that this is a conversational, casual blog. I don't think I could stand the pressure of trying to figure out what is the correct grammar of the day every time I post.


Let's not even get started on the effect that texting is having on our written language. Maybe I'll discuss that with the letter "T".

And yes, I am old. At least old enough, that I wish for the good old days when things were done "right". :)

F is for still Figuring it out

F is for still Figuring it out

When I was trying to think about what I was going to write for “F” day, my mind was blank except for “Fun” and another word I don't think I'll mention here that rhymes with duck. Although, I do remember asking one of my older sister's friends what the unmentionable word meant and why it was bad to say. However, I didn't think that was a subject I wanted to go into here. “Fun” was such a broad topic, I couldn't seem to narrow that down enough to write a cohesive post about it.

Next I called in my son and asked if he would brainstorm with me a little. He was full of ideas for the letter “F”. However my mistake was starting the conversation before I had something to write with. Here's some of the things I managed to write down that he suggested.

Fireworks: good. I have some decent pictures I took of them last summer. I could use the story about my 18 month old nephew saying, “Bubbles boom.” when he saw them. Maybe.

Fried food: that always tastes good, but don't know if I can expand it into a new post unless I cook something with a recipe. Not gonna happen in time.

Friends: maybe, use the standard theme of new friends in blog land

Firsts: a possibility but the topic is so broad I'm drawing a blank

Forgetting and do a corollary post for “R” on remembering: Got plenty of forgetting examples for this

Fans—I could tell about the fights with my sister over the fan in the room we shared. Don't know if she would like that because I, of course, would be the one who came out looking good.

Furniture: I got nothing

Formaldehyde and dissecting stories: I could tell about the biology teacher who would take a snake out of formaldehyde and throw it at us to make us not afraid of snakes. Not sure that worked.

Fungus: why does fungus sound gross while mushrooms sounds gourmet

Flatscreen TV: I got nothing
Floors: already posted about our new floors

Fiber: not sure that's where I want to go here

Fluorescent lights: maybe. I have a few opinions about them.

So there you have it. My undeveloped ideas for "F". When I showed a draft of this post to my son, he said that it was awfully early in the alphabet to do a post like this and maybe I could do one about Fingerprints. Well, it's time to move onto the next letter, so I have to go with what I've got. If I'm really lucky, I'll have another “brainstorming” session with him, and convince him that he needs to write the next post. :)