"Due Date" vs "Do Date"
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“Do Date” vs “Due Date”: Do Profs Really Have to Explain the Difference?

If there really are teachers who list assignments by “do date” rather than “due date,” I’ve never heard from one. Students who fall behind sometimes say “I didn’t know whether the readings listed for Monday are due on *Monday* or whether they are due on *Wednesday*.” How likely is it that the student really *is* confused about whether Monday=Monday or Monday=Wednesday? How likely is it that the student is exaggerating…

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I’m Asking My Students to Be Deliberate about the Word “Novel”

In the past few years, I have noticed more students are applying the word “novel” to any text they might be asked to study in class, whether that text is a book-length fictional narrative, a play, a poem, a political manifesto, or a collection of academic essays. I wrote up this lecture to introduce the concept of literary genre, in the hopes of communicating why it’s important that we recognize…

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Ancient Sea Rise Tale Told Accurately for 10,000 Years

“It’s quite gobsmacking to think that a story could be told for 10,000 years,” Nicholas Reid, a linguist at Australia’s University of New England specializing in Aboriginal Australian languages, said. “It’s almost unimaginable that people would transmit stories about things like islands that are currently underwater accurately across 400 generations.” —Scientific American.

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Why I Still Blog

I particularly value blogging because of the visibility of older content. Facebook and Twitter don’t make it easy for you to contextualize links pointing to something relevant you posted a month or a year or decade ago. It may seem right to ask, after so many years: what is left to discuss about blogging? We all know what it is. We all know what it does. What used to be…

How to Write Dialogue -- Jerz's Literacy Weblog

Writing Effective Dialogue (Punctuation and Actions in Creative Writing)

“Punctuating dialogue properly is important,” says the old man, “But actions speak loudly, too. When I offered you tea, and you unlaced your boots at my hearth, we didn’t need any words stating that there was a comfortable lull in our conversation. The careful placement of details created a little pause. It was a good example of showing rather than telling.”

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain in 2015

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2015?

If the pre-1978 laws were still in effect, we could have seen 85% of the works published in 1986 enter the public domain on January 1, 2015. Imagine what that would mean to our archives, our libraries, our schools and our culture. Such works could be digitized, preserved, and made available for education, for research, for future creators. Instead, they will remain under copyright for decades to come, perhaps even…

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Split Infinitives in English: Not Actually Wrong, But Unwise

The rule against split infinitives is a bookish restriction serving no real function in English. However, many people have memorized the “no split infinitives” rule and take it very seriously. It’s best never to split infinitives (unless you want to really emphasize the risk you are taking). More: Split Infinitives in English: Not Actually Wrong, But Unwise.