Monday, March 9, 2009

Grammar Me This

Every once in a while I think language is wacky. When I do, I want to share it with you. You may or may not care about this, but I feel better for having inflicted it on you.

First there was Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

The title of the book is an amphibology, a verbal fallacy arising from an ambiguous grammatical construction, and derived from a joke on bad punctuation:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

'Why?' asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

'Well, I'm a panda', he says, at the door. 'Look it up.'

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. 'Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.'

Then there was Strong Bad Rhythm and Grammar. I agree that this is just inane, but it's also kind of funny. HomeStarRunner fans will be amused.
-"Your vs. You're"

"Y-O-U-R," "Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E,"
They're as different as night and day.
Don't you think that night and day are different?
What's wrong with you?

-"And I Don't Care How You Spell Things on the Internet."

And I don't care how you spell things on the internet,
When you e-mail me, please spell the whole word out.
And I don't care that your cell phone has a camera in it.
Next, we have a full blown Grammar Noir. What's really funny about John McIntyre's serial in the Baltimore Sun is that the persons mentioned are all real people.

I stepped through the door as she switched on an overhead light.

There he was. A man of middle years, slumped over a desk. There was a flier for National Grammar Day on March 4 clutched in his fist.

I walked over and touched the cold dead flesh of his neck. No pulse, of course. There was a small bruise at his right temple.

I reached for his collar and pulled him upright in his chair. An Eberhard Faber Col-erase number 1277 pencil, carmine red, protruded from his chest, just over the heart.

“Did that kill him?” she asked. Her voice quavered.

“Sweetheart, that’s for the M.E. to say, but I’d bet a first-edition Fowler’s that that pencil has been recently sharpened.”

It's all part of that vast conspiracy called National Grammar Day, designated March 4th. Ok, so you missed it -- so did I. We can still enjoy it though, why not?

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