We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Several months ago, I announced that as part of a company putting together webinar classes for writers I would be conducting a course on grammar. A number of readers of this blog expressed an interest in taking the course.
As this cartoon shows, there really is a need for understanding proper use of grammar. I know, you got bored around the fourth grade when you kept hearing the same rules over and over, and you tuned the teacher out.
Your classmates didn’t pay much attention to the subject, so why should you? But now that you’re a writer, you really need to be able to communicate with some intelligence with your readers.
Back to the online course—along the way, the lady putting the company together decided she didn’t want me to be a part of it, so the idea ground to a halt. Without the kind of training and support that was to be offered by that company, I don’t have a clue how to conduct a webinar, nor do I have a big market of potential students.
The original plan was for me to teach a couple of other courses as well, but they were not courses I had any unique experience to teach, so I don’t think anyone lost anything by my not doing those. Grammar, however, is a subject of great importance to writers, yet it is one in which few seem to have much expertise, maybe because English is such a ridiculous language, as George Carlin demonstrated:
We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes;
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese;
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen ?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet ?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth ?
Then one may be that, & three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose;
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother & also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his & him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis & shim !
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England .
We take English for granted,
But if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly,
Boxing rings are square;
A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
Why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing?
Grocers don’t groce & hammers don’t ham ?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that …
You can make amends but not one amend ?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends …
And get rid of all but one of them,
What do you call it ?
If teachers taught, why haven’t preachers praught ?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables,
What does a humanitarian eat ?
Sometimes I think all people who speak English
Should be in an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play,
And play at a recital ?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship ….
We have noses that run & feet that smell;
We park in a driveway & drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance & a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man & a wise guy are opposites ?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
In which your house can burn up as it burns down;
In which you fill in a form by filling it out,
& in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And in closing ….
If Father is Pop …..
How come Mother’s not Mop ? ? ? ?
Since I do see a need and have a modicum of expertise in this area, I have decided to put together a series of blogs on the subject. I know, grammar’s not the most exciting subject in the world—but it’s one that’s important to all of us if we are to communicate. Before, you would have had to pay $60 to $100 for the course. Now, it will be free. And you are free to copy and save any of the material you want for your own writing needs. All I ask is that you not use these blogs to put together your own grammar course and offer it to the public, either for free or for profit.
At the present time, I’m still working on the curriculum, but I’ll be beginning the series in the next week or so. Hope you’ll join me.
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his non-fiction Heaven Sent: 67 Stories of Godly Thoughts and Inspiration and starting his new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @davidnwalkertx
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Fab of you to offer your wisdom for free, David. And I loved the cartoon clip. “Let”s eat Grandma!” sounds like something that might end up in a horror piece.
Or in everyday writing if we’re not careful. Thanks, Barbara.
Hi David, I just received a line edit on the first 500 words of my novel and it was glaring obvious I need help with the grammar. Your blog will be timely and a huge help! I can’t wait.
Hope you find it helpful, Raewyn.
Thanks, Amberr. I intend to start this Friday.
Good for you, David! You’re making lemonade with this course and many of us will dropping by and spreading the word.
Thanks for your encouragement, Pat.
I’m sorry things didn’t work out David but way to go in turning this into a positive! I’ll be happy to do a Kate’s Quickie post to announce your class once you have a start date.
Thanks, Kate. This Friday, Jun 22, will be the first post in the series. I’ll be posting them every Friday after that.
Terrific! My Quickies are usually posted anytime during the weekend so I’ll make sure I post your grammar class on my blog Thursday night or Friday morning. “See” you in class:)
I love that poem on English, lol. This is a great series to offer, David! I’m a grammar nut myself and have been teaching it for the past five years to kids and ESL learners. Teachers always say reading is a great way to improve your English. But it never fails; sometimes my students come to me with a book and say, “I thought this was wrong?” Anyway, I might direct some of my students your way when the series is up!
Thanks, Angela. If I teach something wrong, send me a gentle suggestion.
Sounds like you have a solid road map, David. Remember, one closed door means two others open. Sounds like this was a blessing in disguise. Just sayin’.
Thanks, Diana. Always like opening new doors.
I’m sorry you were excluded from presenting your grammar course with “that lady’s company”, David. But I’m happy to hear you’ll carry on your grammar course in the form of a blog series. Maybe you should turn the series into a digital eBook after the series that you can offer for free on your blog to new subscribers. That might entice a boost in your subscriptions. Everyone loves to get something free. I look forward to your series, David.
Thanks, Marcia. Maybe by the time the sereies runs its course I can find out what a digital ebook is.
Oh, you know, David, a PDF. A copy of the book with no cover, something the reader can download to their computer and then print out. It’s the easiest ever to self-pub and you can have it offered on Amazon, too.
Great idea, Marcia!!!!
While grammar instruction is much-needed, I find that we also seem to need instruction in logic (but I have also heard that you can’t fix stupid). My case in point: on the way to work I passed a professionally printed sign advertising “Free Windshield Repair – $25”
Thanks, Lynn. I love stuff like that. Who says an IQ can’t be below zero?
Lynn, your comment reminds me of that old nonsense verse from David’s and my childhood …..
There will be a Father’s meeting on Monday, which is Tuesday.
Mothers only, please.
Admission is free, pay at the door.
Pull up a seat and sit on the floor.
Go for the grammar course, David! Just remember that prepositions are fine to end sentences with.
Yes, Barb, and I also remember that “sister” is not a proper noun.
I’ll be checking in on the series, David. Thanks for sharing that snort-worthy poem.
It out-snarked* me. I can’t think of a witty come-back.
(*Yes. I know that’s not a real word. Please don’t use it as an example in your course.)
I’ll be searching EVERYONE’s writing for examples, Gloria. But I promise not to identify anyone. I’m trying to build readership, not destroy it.