Thursday, August 17, 2006

Eye-Catching Grammar Awareness
Last weekend, I had my first chance to wear my new "Good grammar costs nothing!" shirt, and for the first time in recent memory,* I had two strangers comment on my clothing.

The first one was an older man in the local coffee shop my family frequents most Saturdays. He told me that he liked my shirt, because too many people today don't take school and the things they learn there seriously enough. When he had been in school in West Virginia, he had only missed 4 days in 12 years. One day was excused, because it was Senior Day in high school. He missed two of the other days for measles, and only one day for chicken pox, because he had fortuitously had them mostly during a school vacation anyway. His most influential teacher was a high school English teacher who had been transfered to his school after desegregation.

The second person was a man at the library, who did a double take and then said, "Oh, I thought your shirt didn't have the 'g' on the end of 'nothing' so it could be ironic." (My bag strap was in the way.) He seemed disappointed that it wasn't. However, when I thought about it, in a way, the shirt isn't terribly true, because for all the students I've actually taught, good grammar was quite expensive, coming at the end of years of study and possibly expensive college semesters abroad. Then again, the shirt is mostly intended to raise awareness here in the US among native English speakers, and goodness knows they need some reminding. As the description of the shirt says:
Spend any time on an internet message board -- hell, even on a professionally produced website's editorial content -- and one thing will become dishearteningly clear: the number of people in the world who can put together a coherent sentence is dropping by the day.
So here's to better grammar on the internet! Please, everyone, do your part.

*The last time I think this happened was when the Gideons became concerned about my "Where the hell is Grinnell?/Who the hell cares?" shirt at college club registration day. I was there representing the martial arts club, and they were set up across the way representing, well, Bibles. Since it concerned them so that I thought God didn't care about Grinnell, I took my shirt off and did my karate demo in my sports bra. I got a lot more first-year guys to sign up for the mailing list that way, oddly enough.

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