I think therefore I’m a person! Friday, Feb 12 2010 

Sitting in my constitutional law class this week, I learned about more than just my legal rights.  I learned about my personhood.  On the blackboard behind my professor’s head was an ad for the university’s service trip auction.  The ad supplied the time and date along with prices for admission:

“$5/student       $15/person”

Did I miss something?  I was almost positive I learned in constitutional law class that I had the rights of a person.  And I could have sworn from religion classes in my sixteen years of Catholic schooling that I was a person created specially by God.  Or so I was told.  Silly girl!  You’re a student, not a person!  Well, that would explain the poor quality of food they sometimes serve in the dining halls unworthy of human palates.

I’m going to assume the promoters of the service trips auction are not trying to make a political statement and just made an honest mistake.  Simple enough.  But in the interest of preserving my dignity as a human being while I serve the remainder of my years as a student, I can’t overlook the need to clarify that my fellow students and I are indeed people.

Which brings me to my point (didn’t think I had one, did you?).  Mistakes in grammar or word usage may seem harmless enough, but a simple slip could mean the dehumanization of a significant portion of the population. (How significant? Not sure exactly. English majors don’t take many math or statistics classes).  So choose your words wisely for you never know when your slip could create a philosophical crisis of being for your readers or listeners.


The Entertaining Side of Grammar Tuesday, Feb 2 2010 

Try as a may, I can’t escape my obsession with grammar, punctuation, word usage, spelling… the list goes on.  I even wrote my personal statement for law schools about diagramming sentences.  At least now I can take my unusual obsession and make it productive for class.  I thought linguistics would be a really weird topic for a blog until I found LanguageLog, a blog run by University of Pennsylvania phonetician Mark Liberman.   This blog has witty observations about mistakes in grammar, punctuation, word use— everything I’m obsessed with.  Murphy’s Law at its finest, every link to the site is magically broken and Google can no longer find the page.  I’ll try again later.

I think my topic will work because grammar-related mistakes often make for funny results.   Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, a guidebook to punctuation, centers on the funny things that happen when people mispunctuate.  The title comes from a mistake made by someone describing the eating habits of pandas.  Instead of the panda peacefully eating his bamboo shoots and leaves, the extra commas suggest a scene out of a gangster movie with the panda shooting up a restaurant before leaving.

I may use “funny” too liberally, but these are the examples that I think are funny.  I’ll try my best to keep my posts on this more humorous slant instead of ranting about poor spelling, grammar, and the like.