IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2006
YOU WANT ME TO DRAW YOU A DIAGRAM?
13 November 2006
I've said before in this journal that if you want to drive me absolutely insane, tell me about two trains leaving two stations at different times and traveling at different speeds and ask me to figure out when they are going to meet at a certain point.
Math is not my long suit.
However, I am one of those weird people who really loved diagramming sentences.
I don't know why I liked it, but I was pretty good at it in grammar school and was disappointed in high school when I realized that we were not going to diagram sentences in our English class.
I was thrilled when I walked into Mrs. Gavin's English class in my sophomore year and discovered that she liked to diagram sentences too and, since she knew that I enjoyed it, I was the one who got to go to the board to do it, when it was called for.
Yeah, I was one of those kids.
I checked Wikipedia for the back story about diagramming sentences. The Internet is once again a marvelous tool for trivia.
It turns out that this method of understanding grammar was developed by two guys named Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellog, who defended their system against nay-sayers who claimed it was non-intuitive ("The fact that the pictorial diagram groups the parts of a sentence according to their offices and relations, and not in the order of speech, has been spoken of as a fault. It is, on the contrary, a merit, for it teaches the pupil to look through the literary order and discover the logical order. He thus learns what the literary order really is, and sees that this may be varied indefinitely, so long as the logical relations are kept clear.")
Now that explanation may be too complex to fully comprehend, but as I read it, I really did understand what they were saying. While diagramming is one of those skills that you never expect to use in your life when you are learning it, as a faux writer, I find that I really DO use it. Oh, I don't sit down and actually diagram sentences any more, but when trying to write a complicated sentence and trying to figure out where modifying words go, I often visualize it as a diagrammed sentence and -- there you have it, the sentences turns out grammatically correct.
In other words, I learned what the literary order is and learn how to keep logical relations clear.
My grammar school, a Catholic school, really did an excellent job of giving us the basics of English grammar, reading and writing. At the time it was well known that we were far superior to the public school which was only a block away (or maybe, being kids, we just assumed we were). I really thank my grammar school education for putting me on the right track for reading and writing well.
But I'm afraid I will never be able to think fondly on those damn old phonics lessons we used to have. I can remember endlessly going through the letters of the alphabet: "b says buh, buh, buh...c says kuh, kuh, kuh...d says duh, duh, duh..." and on down all the letters. We had blue plastic cards and blue plastic pointers and I absolutely detested phonics.
But diagramming sentences was fun. I suppose I mostly remember it so fondly because it was something .....
....now see? Screwed by diagramming. I want to say "something I was good at." But that's grammatically incorrect and I know it's grammatically incorrect because you can't really diagram the sentence properly, but to say that diagramming sentences was "something at which I was very good" sounds much too affected.
Let's just say I liked diagramming sentences.
But I still don't know what time those damn trains are going
to pass each other.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
I may enjoy diagramming
sentences....but I'm glad
This is entry #2419