Friday, July 16, 2010

Grammar Funnies

Here are some grammar funnies I want to save:

The Writer's Den:  "Grammar," quoting a piece in Physics Review Letters, of all things, in 1979! Ancient history! (And the year I went to college.)

My favorites:

12. Don't use commas, which are not necessary.
18. As far as incomplete constructions, they are wrong.
20. In my opinion, I think that an author when he is writing should definitely not get into the habit of making use of too many unnecessary words that he does not really need in order to put his message across.
21. Use parallel construction not only to be concise but also clarify.
22. It behooves us all to avoid archaic expressions.
23. Mixed metaphors are a pain in the neck and ought to be weeded out.
26. Last but not least, lay off cliches.
HT: Todd Harris

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Writing Like Mary Shelley

Yesterday I discovered that I write like Daniel DeFoe and a couple of other folks, at least . . .

Today my recent high school graduate daughter Betsy tried the test for herself, using an assignment she wrote for me this year for our local home school study center. The class used the Veritas Press Omnibus III: Reformation to the Present assignment based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus .  One writing assignment calls for students to write in the voice of one character urging Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, to "do the right thing" to save a young girl about to be executed for a murder she did not commit.

Betsy did a nice job on this assignment, writing as Victor's fiancee Elizabeth in this opening paragraph:

Oh Victor, you know it is right to save Justine at all costs, and otherwise your conscience may never give you rest again. How dark will your days be! how brooding your nights! How shadowed shall our life together be with such a cloud overspreading it! If you speak up, your conscience will be as clear as it can be, and even if others mock you, I will believe you, I will do my best to support you in your most insupportable hours. Is not assurance of my love some help? If you should succeed the people will be aware of the beast and full of zeal to destroy him. If he should be caught, what relief to us all; if not, at least they will be warned of the danger. Dear, sweet, beloved Justine will be safe, the town will be safe, you will be safe. I will be safe.

When she plugged in this essay the little program gave her great gratification: she writes like Mary Shelley! :-)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Write Like . . .

Who do you write like?

I write like
Daniel Defoe
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Here's the passage upon which that judgment is based:


Why do we persist, so many through the generations, in straining our souls’ eyes and our flesh to discern a touch from those beyond death? Why a séance, a gasp at a breeze? Why do we imagine that a long-departed loved one--one we perhaps have rosier memories of than do those who knew him better-- cares for us more than do those here with us now? We are all so beleaguered by this world, so buffeted and strained with the business of living, that we haven’t time or capacity to be so all-focused on another, or to believe that anyone else can be so focused on us, not in this world. So we remember the tenderest moments, the closest care, the happiest days with those no longer enduring the storm with us, and we imagine that they have the attention to pay us, the longing to relieve us of our troubles, if only in our confidence.

But how blind we are, such short-sighted children, to reach for those just rescued from our shipwreck, those still trembling on the deck, wrapped in scratchy blankets, clutching tin cups of steaming coffee, having their faces dried by ministering hands. The same strength that has borne them up to safety, to solidity from our wobbly, leaky boat, is even now capably reaching for us, in fact has already grasped us, even before we know it. We are insensible, blinded by tears and rain, numb to the strong arms gathering us in. We look beyond those rescuing arms with feeble longing for those no stronger than ourselves, only rescued. They know they have nothing to offer us that is needful, all their best intentions swallowed up in His greater love.

Inspired by a passage from Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping: A Novel, the excerpt quoted here.

Cindy Marsch

July 3, 2009

I tried analyzing another passage, a post I made here called "The Mercy of Moonlight," and the judgment was this:

I write like
Margaret Atwood
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Then I tried a blog post, "Web Writing," just to see what might happen. I'm Margaret Atwood again.

So what about a really academic kind of thing, a paper on Middle English translation I wrote in a grad school class? Here's the verdict:

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Well, then.

Want to try? Use one of the links in one of the boxes above.

New Offerings at Writing Assessment Services

I've just been working on my website for Writing Assessment Services and have some new things to announce:

Online course areas at combine previous courses to give you more flexibility.
  • Great Books Writing Workshop has over thirty assignments to choose from, from antiquity to modernity.
  • Progymnasmata Tutorials include all levels for more choices, plus all three of my workbooks.
  • Apprenticeship Writing Workshop has both levels together.
  • All of these courses include robust files of evaluated student samples of the work and discussion forums for students and parents to ask questions and share their work.
New Resource Membership gives you access to all of the course materials and forum discussion and evaluated student papers, but with a low cost because I am not providing evaluations.

My Composition 2 course with Veritas Press Scholars Academy online still has a few seats left in one section--enroll soon!

Please stop by Writing Assessment Services today and see how I can help as you plan your new school year!

Humor and History

I was going to post this to Facebook, but then I realized I'd have people responding who just don't "get it." So I'm going to post this here, where I can warn you in an instructive sort of way that this is a humorous blog entry that makes great use of the irony of reality. If you scroll through the comments (skipping the one with the bad words) to the one by a German who doesn't "get it," you'll see the problem--humor relies on a shared frame of reference, and it relies a LOT on very subtle language cues, which the poor German guy realizes he's missing.

Here's an excerpt from the original:

I'm not even going to get into the whole subplot about breaking a secret code (cleverly named "Enigma", because the writers couldn't spend more than two seconds thinking up a name for an enigmatic code), the giant superintelligent computer called Colossus (despite this being years before the transistor was even invented), the Soviet strongman whose name means "Man of Steel" in Russian (seriously, between calling the strongman "Man of Steel" and the Frenchman "de Gaulle", whoever came up with the names for this thing ought to be shot).

And here's the "Stuff," by Scott (Squid314) via Joe Carter of First Thoughts.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Father's Day Cartoon Card

A fun Father's Day card from my artist-daughter Betsy to her physicist-father Glenn. I just had to share it somewhere! (Click on the image to see it decently.)