Posts Tagged: grammar

Jay Rubin

The Rumpus Interview with Jay Rubin

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Author and translator Jay Rubin talks about his new novel, The Sun Gods, translating Haruki Murakami into English, and the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II. ...more

That Sounds About Right

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The Internet loves correcting other people’s grammar. But you’re your grammar mistakes are often the result of how the brain functions rather than ignorance, cognitive scientists have learned. The Washington Post reports that the reason we often end up with homophone errors is that the brain double checks our writing with the way a word sounds, leading to common errors:

The brain doesn’t always consult a word’s sound, but studies have shown that it frequently falls back on it, and sound tells us nothing about the difference between “you’re” and “your.” Research on typing errors reveals that sound creates even odder mistakes, such as people writing “28” when they mean to type “20A.” It’s no wonder that people who know better will routinely confound closer pairings such as “it’s” and “its” or “know” and “no.”

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Taylor Swift: Grammar Crusader?

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Proving that the quest for high scores on the SAT is as tragically unhip as ever, The Princeton Review is making headlines for setting off a grammar grudge match with pop sensation Taylor Swift. Swift’s lyrics are not only included in a section on pronoun agreement errors, they’re misquoted (although as Eugene Volokh points out at WaPo, this doesn’t seem to have changed the grammatical point in question). 

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Serial Commas, Subordinate Clauses, and the New Yorker

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Mary Norris has a gift for your favorite grammarian in this week’s New Yorker: a detailed account of comma policy from a veteran copyeditor. The magazine is notorious for its meticulous house style (where else do you still see a diaeresis over the word coördinate?), which it owes to Mensa-level punctuator Eleanor Gould and her acolytes.

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For the Love of Good Grammar

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Bryan Henderson has made more than 47,000 edits to Wikipedia. This prolific career is not the product of Henderson’s great breath of knowledge, but rather because he has an obsession with fixing a specific grammatical mistake. The mistake he corrects over and over again is composed of two words: “comprised of.” His efforts to remove the error from the online encyclopedia have landed Henderson in the top 1,000 most active editors.

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Creativity Is Messy

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Technically perfect writing is important when it comes to journalism or nonfiction, and especially helpful when writing with short deadlines. Fiction writing is different though. Nicole Bernier, over at Beyond the Margins, explains why grammatically sloppy writing might be the product of greater creativity:

Sometimes when creative writers say they don’t notice their own typos, it has a whiff of, well, humblebraggery.

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Grammar As You Like It

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Everybody has that one friend who insists they know good grammar. They’re probably wrong—Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker insists strict rules just don’t matter because language is fluid. Mother Jones explains the grammatically anti-authoritarian position:

…language is never set in stone; rather, it is a tool that is constantly evolving and changing, continually adding new words and undoing old rules and assumptions.

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The Decline of Punctuation?!…

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We live in a heyday of punctuation. “Call this what you will—exclamatory excess, punctuation inflation, the result of the Internet’s limitless expanse—it is everywhere,” writes Megan Garber at the Atlantic. But perhaps not for long—with the rise of image-based expression like emoji and gifs, we are finding new ways to express ourselves, and we’re leaving exclamation points and question marks out of it.

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