Posts Tagged ‘Conventions’

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Are you a "comma queen"?

posted: 3.5.15 by Andrea Lunsford

When I say I am a teacher of writing to a new acquaintance, I often get the response no doubt familiar to you: “Oops; better watch my language.” This stereotype of the English teacher as a nit-picker extraordinaire is widespread and seems to be deeply ingrained in the national psyche as “Miss Fidditch.” This character’s name seems to have been coined by linguist Henry Lee Smith in the early 1950s—though H. L. Mencken had earlier referred to “old maid schoolteachers who would rather parse than eat.” So the stereotype is surely an old one. [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Grammar & Style, Punctuation & Mechanics
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A writing assignment—in tiny steps?

posted: 2.5.15 by Andrea Lunsford

Flying across the country a few weeks ago, I read Diogo Mainardi’s The Fall: A Father’s Memoir in 424 Steps (you can hear an interview with the author here). It’s a slim book—166 pages—so I had time to read it twice through, which I did with pleasure and gratitude. While the story of Mainardi’s son Tito’s botched birth in a Venice hospital, which left him with cerebral palsy, is gripping from first to last, what fascinated me most about the book was its structure: it is divided into 424 brief passages, some as short as a four-word sentence (“Tito has cerebral palsy,” which opens the book), others as long as half a page. [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Assignment Idea
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Casket or Coffin? The New York Times and Style

posted: 12.11.14 by Andrea Lunsford

In mid-November I was skimming headlines when this one caught my eye: “Please, Don’t ‘Decry’ the ‘Divorcee.’ Or Give Us Your ‘CV.” The Times Guide to Modern Usage.”  Intrigued, I clicked and read on.  In this brief piece, Susan Lehman, former deputy editor of the Sunday Review section of the New York Times, provides a “sampling of terms that should be used with care.” [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Grammar & Style
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