As an avid reader, an aspiring writer, and a nitpicking OCD-afflicted freakjob, I have a bit of a pet peeve about substandard grammar, spelling, and syntax. I’m not sure exactly why — maybe my English teachers in school smacked me around a little harder than the other educators. Or maybe the ‘l33t sp33k’ I encounter every day on the web has finally gotten to me. Possibly, my parents beat me with a Webster’s unabridged during my formative years. I can’t say for sure.
“It’s the same reason we remember what happened to Jack and Jill, or Old Mother Hubbard, or that adventurous young lass from Nantucket.”
Whatever the origins of my obsession, in the end I’m here to help. So rather than rail and complain about our populace’s seeming indifference to the rules of proper English, I decided to contribute to the cause, in my own small way. It’s my contention that most people only remember one rule about grammar or spelling:
‘I’ before ‘e’
Except after ‘c’,
Or when sounding like ‘a’,
As in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh’.
We remember this not because it’s the most important rule, nor is iit the one used most often. Unless your job involves something like, say, printing ceiling frieze receipts, you probably rarely use the rule at all. So why do we remember it?
Because it rhymes. It’s the same reason we remember what happened to Jack and Jill, or Old Mother Hubbard, or that adventurous young lass from Nantucket.
So the answer is simple: we need more mnemonics like the one above. More rhymes, better grammar. Once the epiphany hit, I got to work immediately on a new set of memory aids. I delivered the first set over two years ago.
Then I forgot about them for a while. When you live the way I do, epiphanies have a way of getting buried under the clutter on your desk. Or mangled by the dog and forgotten in the dirty clothes basket.
But just a few months ago, I managed a new set of mnemonics. And since those have had the same null effect as the first set, I’m back again for round three. Honestly, if we could just get a few of these ditties into the kindergarten classrooms, I’m convinced the literacy rate would skyrocket. Like this one, for instance:
‘You may say that your stripper’s
‘Not hardly filling that bra’;
But you’ll still have to tip her,
When she corrects your faux pas.‘
A grammar lesson, and a tip on boobie bar social etiquette. Eat that, Reading Rainbow! Let’s try another:
‘If you’ve lost your pencil
Somewheres around here,
Let me know when you’ve found it,
So I can cram it in your ear.‘
This is why it’s unlikely I’ll ever be allowed to teach these rhymes in schools myself, of course. And probably why no one ever lets me borrow a pencil. Moving right along:
‘You might go ‘on the lam’,
Once the fuzz is alerted;
But if you’re ‘on the lamb‘,
Ewe’re shearly fleecing perverted.‘
Like I always say, it’s not a proper English lesson until the bad puns and beastiality innuendo start flying. How about one more, to take us home:
‘When comparing two things,
Never claim one is ‘best‘;
Unless they’re Super Bowl rings,
Or boobs on a chest.‘
Close your lesson books and put down your pencils, students. You can study quietly or put your heads on your desks until the bell rings. Just don’t disturb the teacher while I get started on my ‘liquid recess’. Class dismissed.Permalink | 3 Comments