Thursday, February 23, 2017

Connecting the Dots

A friend and colleague stopped by my classroom this afternoon with her dad. I was grading reading assignments and more than happy to take a break to meet a man I had been hearing about for over twenty years. When he found out that I was an English teacher, he gamely turned the conversation to correct usage and grammar (or the lack there of) these days. In a minute or two we had covered text-speak and spelling and dialects and the power structure.

"I'll tell you who does value exact grammar," he said. "Lawyers! One comma in the wrong place can mean the difference between damages and no damages for their clients."

I nodded. "It's like that old joke: Let's eat, Grandma versus Let's eat Grandma. Commas can save lives!"

We laughed, and then he asked, "How did we get to cannibalism from grammar?"

"Well," I answered, "I was just grading some work on a book about the Donner Party. It might have something to do with that!"

And we were off again.

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