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What to Do With a B.A. in English?

Some good tips on what to say about your English major during a job interview, and some realistic advice about English grad school. English majors choose a major that not only challenges them intellectually but gives them pleasure. They love to read and think that reading matters. Or they hope to be writers and have taken courses in creative writing to test their potential as poets, fiction writers, and dramatists.…

Theory Trading Cards

This set of 21 Theory Trading Cards, published by AltaMira Press, is based upon the online trading cards which have been so popular at David Gauntletts website Being actual cards, these are two-sided and contain more information; and whereas the online cards were only an official set of 12, for the published version, 21 new cards have been created based on a careful selection of top figures in cultural, media…

When my kid says ‘I’m bored,’ I pretend to hear ‘give me more chores.’

“I’m bored,” is something my daughter knows NOT to say around me. If she does, I will look into her big brown eyes with my most sincere fake paternal concern, and say, “Honey, you are a talented, intelligent, wonderful kid with so many opportunities. You have no reason to think peplee find you boring.” She has leearned not to roll her eyes and sass me with “I said I’m bored,…

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12 Mistakes Nearly Everyone Who Writes About Grammar Mistakes Makes

Descriptive grammarians rejoice. Formal written English is not the only legitimate form of the language, and the rules of formal written English don’t apply in all situations. Sure, it’s useful to know when to use who and whom, but it’s probably more useful to know that saying To whom did you give the book? in casual conversation will make you sound like a pompous twit. via Arrant Pedantry


‘Because’ has become a preposition, because grammar

The construction is more versatile than “because+noun” suggests. Prepositional because can be yoked to verbs (Can’t talk now because cooking), adjectives (making up examples because lazy), interjections (Because yay!), and maybe adverbs too, though in strings like Because honestly., the adverb is functioning more as an exclamation. The resulting phrases are all similarly succinct and expressive. –Sentence first.


Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

Neil Gaiman tells us why books matter: When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you…


SAT essay section: Problems with grading, instruction, and prompts.

In my freshman writing courses I work hard to convince students that many of the strategies that helped them get by in high school simply won’t lead to college-level work. For instance, I actually read their drafts, ask probing questions about their goals, options, and strategic choices, and then expect their revisions to follow up on that feedback. I had high school English teachers who worked some drafting and revision…


In Which The Geekiness of My Kids Surpasses My Own

A former student of mine who often wore a Star Trek VI T-shirt was trying to make an annoying person go away, so when he spoke to her, she said “Servant, attention!” in Goa’uld. When I paraphrased this story to my son, he immediately said, “Jaffa, kree!” Then he said something in Goa’uld that he translated as “You have come here to destroy me” (from the movie, he said). My…


Save our children from the Grammar Tribe

Similarly, “dived” is the traditional past tense of “dive”, but “dove” has overtaken it, as speakers have drawn an analogy with “drove” and “wove”. At some stage, like “stopt” – the old past tense of “stop”, common as recently as the 1940s – “dived” may be obsolete. When will we start to dock points for “dived”? The playful Americanism “snuck” is replacing “sneaked”; will that be allowed? This isn’t nitpicking.…

William Shakespeare (Portrait)

Coined by Shakespeare? Think again

For years, Shakespeare has been thought to deploy greater linguistic variety than contemporaries like Marlowe, Kyd, and Jonson; scholars have estimated that he coined as many as 1,700 words, and that he employed a uniquely large vocabulary of at least 20,000 words. As professor Alfred Hart, long the authority on Shakespeare’s vocabulary, wrote in 1943, his addition of new words play after play shows “how deep and apparently inexhaustible were…