Grammar Rant

Has something ever bothered you so much that you had to interrupt the post you composed in your head at 4:15am when you were trying to get back to sleep?  By the way, composing posts don’t help you get back to sleep; they just make you want to get up and write.  But back to being bothered. . . .

I just put the boys to bed for naptime.  (With any luck, Tornado E will nap a bit too.) Tornado S picked out The Boy and the Tigers by Helen Bannerman.  It’s a cute story about a boy tricking some tigers into first not eating him and second giving him back his clothes.  For those with better memories than I or those from across the pond, you’ll know this story as Little Black Sambo.

Now I don’t know if this is Bannerman’s original text or not, but the grammar is horrible.  So much so that apparently the last time I read it to the boys, I actually edited it.  First off there are too many “ands.”  I know this is more of style thing, but serioursly do we really need to start off every sentence with an “and” or list with “and?”  (“flour and eggs and milk and sugar and butter”)  My head hurts.  Then it’s like the author just grabbed a bunch of commas and just threw them onto the page like colored sprinkles.  While I’m all for colored sprinkles on everything, commas are not colored sprinkles and should be used correctly.  No wonder so few people know how to use commas if books they began reading never used them correctly.  Then nearly every sentence is started with “but,” “so”, “and.”  It’s just more poor grammar usage.

I know that on my blog I stretch the rules of grammar, even break them, from time to time, but I know what I’m doing.  I’m also writing in conversational speech.  This is a book being read to children, a book that children will read by themselves when they learn.  Isn’t it important for them to have good examples on writing?  Wouldn’t that make it easier for them in class as they’ve seen good examples over and over?  And who the hell didn’t edit this book?  Why couldn’t have snagged a job as an editor straight out of college?  Because I know I could do a whole lot better.

Thank you for sticking in with this grammar nerd rant.  A funnier and more embarrassing post to come tomorrow.

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13 Responses to “Grammar Rant”

  1. Lisa Says:

    I’m a grammar nerd, too! (I blame it on my Catholic school education.) Misused pronouns (i.e., Your child spilled their milk) drive me crazy! Or singular subjects and plural verbs…grrrrrrr. Oh, and our favorite saying in our house: Cakes are done; people are finished. (Please don’t tell me you’re “done” eating!!!)

    I’m finished now. Thanks for listening.

  2. Jimmy Says:

    When I do begin sentences with conjunctions, I’m usually trying to achieve a certain effect. But I do agree that books (especially those for children) should display nothing less than perfect grammar.

  3. Jane Says:

    Rant away! But, unfortunately, I think you’re probably preaching to the choir.

  4. itneverrainsinseattle Says:

    I do the same thing when I read to my kids: I edit on the fly.

    Even my most favoritest toddler-aimed author, Sandra Boynton, occasionally has animals “go” Bow, wow, wow, instead of having them “say” Bow, wow, wow. Drives me nuts. And most books aimed at the two- to five-year-old set are simply atrocious when it comes to grammar and word choice.

    [expletive deleted]-ers.

  5. CynthiaK Says:

    I agree with Jane. Points taken and you’re preaching to the choir. 🙂 Great liberties are taken in children’s literature.

    Here’s hoping the next book you pick up to read to your kids shows them what proper grammar looks like.

  6. Gibby Says:

    Have you ever read the Junie B. Jones chapter books? WOW. Those books will send you over the edge.

  7. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Ugh. Miss D. is addicted to these stupid fairy chapter books and it makes me want to tear my hair out.

  8. Evenshine Says:

    AckHATEHATEHATE sentences beginning with ands and buts and sos (at least in children’s books). First thing I hammer into my grammar students. I second the Junie B. Jones. Also the stupid fairy books.

    Like those fragments? I need a dangling participle or two.

  9. faemom Says:

    Lisa~ Any time. Are kids need better grammar examples.
    Jimmy~ Here. Here. That’s why authors and editors are paid.
    Jane~ One day I want to write a parenting book or a feminist book and title it Preaching to the Choir.
    INRIS~ Then the kids are completely baffled on bad grammar as they get older. Errrr.
    CynthiaK~ Thanks. But I’m starting to wonder if I should start writing children’s literature.
    Gibby~ I have not had the pleasure. And with three boys, I probably will never have the pleasure. Lucky me.
    Evenshine~ I remember growing up and being told to sound out the sentence because the ear would hear a mistake. How can kids do that if they are taught mistakes from the beginning? Thank you for making a difference.
    TKW~ Not the fairy chapter books! Say it’s not so!

  10. zeemaid Says:

    I love this post. I’m a grammar nerd too! I hate it when people use poor grammar even though I am occasionally guilty of the same thing.

  11. femspotter Says:

    I hate commas but I do tend to start sentences with the word “and.” AND I think that’s conversational too. What I’ve never been able to stomach are mispronounced words like “axed” for asked, etc. AND I’ve never understood someone’s brilliant idea to reverse the direction of “R” in Toys ‘R Us!

  12. Fie Upon This Quiet Life Says:

    My biggest pet peeve is that comma splices appear to be conventional in fiction. I was completely confused by this as a young writer, and I know my students are, too. I absolutely hate comma splices, but they show up everywhere. Grr…

  13. faemom Says:

    zeemaid~ I just can’t understand how a book with a writer and editor can have such bad grammar.
    femspotter~ Everyone knows you get more costumers when you have a reverse “R” in your name. 😉
    FUTQL~ That’s the thing that ticks me off most because it’s confusing young people who need to know correct grammar.


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