English Word Problems

Fundementals of GrammarAfter I wrote about Dreaded Word Problems and the nightmares left over from math class, Anola Gill Stowick commented, “Ken, you have given rise to that huge lump in my throat that I thought dissolved sometime in my 40’s. Seriously, these look like the word problems our 5th grade granddaughter brings home when we’re babysitting overnight. I don’t do math, I only do English.”

Well, I’m glad Anola has such fond memories of high school English, because I happened upon this English pocket reference guide at the same time I found the math books. I must have held onto it as my form of throwing salt over my shoulder to keep the elephants away. (To see what that means, go to the bottom of this post.)

Experimental English

Fundementals of GrammarI was in what much have been some kind of experimental English class. We learned unconventional names for the parts of speech. All I remember was that one of them was called a “2-ing word.”

I don’t have a clue a 2-ing word is, but it must have been important enough that it stuck with me.

Looking at the book, I can figure out that “subject” probably meant “noun,” and “predicate” might translate to “verb. Once we got beyond those basics, though, I was in the weeds.

“Predictive Nominatives (sometimes divided into Predicate Noun and Predicate Pronoun)” is NOT an English phrase I can ever recall using. Maybe SOME folks would divide those things up, but I was basically, “can’t we all get along?” kind of guy not prone to either long or short division (because that sounded too much like math class).

You can click on the photos to make them larger if you REALLY want to revisit those days. Anola, I’m talking to you.

This REALLY made me tense

Fundementals of GrammarPages 22 and 23 made me tense, and it’s not because it “indicated the time of the action.” My head was swimming with Present Perfect, Past Perfect and Future Perfect tenses. I mean, what made them so all-fired perfect? Can’t we get by with Pretty Close Tense?

Item 108? I didn’t even know we were ALLOWED to conjugate when I was in high school. That must have been what the kids in the non-2-ing word class were up to.

I got decent grades in writing

Fundementals of GrammarThe crazy thing about it was that I got good grades in English when it came to actually writing stuff, and I worked on newspaper copy desks where I had to whip reporters’ stories into readable form.

If I kicked back a story, I didn’t tell the reporter that he had an incomplete throckmartin in the story about the couple caught conjugating on Cherry Hill; I’d just say, “This doesn’t make any sense. Please rewrite it.” It would come back with the throckmartin in the right place, then Rich Renfro would spike the story because “The Missourian doesn’t run stories about people conjugating.”

My writing style was – and is – to string together a bunch of quotes, then drop in a transition sentence or two from time to time to tie them together. I write like I talk, which causes debate coach and speech teacher Ruby Davis to whirl in her grave because I still type “warsh” from time to time.

I’m taking a break

I don’t watch a lot of TV, and when I do, it’s whatever I’ve set the TiVo to record or it’s streaming video. Last night when I went in to unwind, it dawned on me that everything that had been captured was a rerun – some that went back as far as 2010.

The networks are running old shows because nobody is sitting around watching TV at this time of year. My traffic stats show a similar dropoff on the blog, too.

I haven’t missed a day of posting in over a year, and that includes when I’ve been on the road trying to get a weak Internet connection in some No-Tell Motel. I need a break so I can figure out how I’m going to tackle some ambitious projects in 2015, and there’s no better time to do it than when you are distracted by friends and family.

I may post some reruns between now and the first of the year so you don’t go into withdrawals (and so Mother doesn’t nag me about slacking off).

I want to thank those folks who have used the yellow Donate button at the top left of the page. I appreciate your support and wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.