20131016-091206.jpg
3

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…

20131011-112833.jpg
2

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…

1

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…

20130822-194523.jpg
5

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…

20130818-170325.jpg

Disruptions: Texting Your Feelings, Symbol by Symbol

Being a word-oriented thinker, I don’t have much interest in emoji icons. I dislike it when an autocorrect turns a traditional sideways smiley into an icon. My daughter, who at age 11 is too young for a Facebook account, sometimes uses my Facebook account to chat with her slightly-older teen friends, which means that when I am using Facebook on another device, chat windows pop up and fill themselves with…

20130810-102130.jpg

How do I cite a tweet in MLA Style?

According to the Modern Language Association: Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone. Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of…