Tag Archives: Grammar matters!

Happy birthday, blog.

Happy birthday, blog.  I’m sorry that I’m a little late in writing this.

Had I written birthday well-wishes on January 19, however, I would not have been able to share how I celebrated your birthday, that is, by the consumption of an entire package of whoopee pies over a three-day period (aka moon pies, aka maybe better than cupcakes) and a marathon viewing of Parks and Recreation (seasons two and three).

whoopee pie

whoopee pies!

You know how when you spend a lot of time with a character, whether in a book or a television show, you sometimes find yourself thinking the way the characters think?  Imbibing words and phrases and manners of speaking that the characters might use, the same humour?

Since I spent so much time with that show this weekend (there’s no shame in good television, even if I am a book lover and this blog is mostly about books), I have pretty much convinced myself that I’m pretty clever and also funny.  (Or do I mean pretty, clever, and also funny?  Commas are so important.)

Maybe these feelings of sparkly self-confidence are artificially inspired by:

  1. all 2,000 calories (literally only 1,920) of whoopee pie hitting me simultaneously.
  2. my deep infatuation with the character Ben on Parks and Recreation.
  3. extended periods of giggling resulting in not enough oxygen reaching my brain.
  4. All of the above are true.
  5. None of the above are true.

Regardless, it’s been quite a lot of fun for me to share some thoughts on this blog in the last year, and I want to thank everyone who has visited. It’s a joy for me to share with you, and hear from you.

Tale from a Tired Intern, No. 1

You, my anonymous (or, as seems more likely, not-so-anonymous) reader(s), will remember that I’m in graduate school. This summer, I’m doing an internship in an academic library. This is in addition to working full-time, and lest at any time in the future excessive tiredness should overwhelm my capacity to express gratitude, let me say now that I am very grateful to my employers for letting me work an alternative schedule during the seven or so weeks of my internship. I am also very grateful to my internship hosts for the opportunity to gain some real library experience.

This alternative schedule means that, Monday through Thursday, I’m working – either at work or my internship – from about 7 in the morning to 7 at night. Friday I spend a regular day at work, and then I spend Sunday afternoons at my internship again. So, needless to say, I’m pretty tired. In fact, I’m amazed that I’m still awake right now.

The biggest project that I’m working on for my internship involves sorting through two year’s worth of interlibrary loan request data and ultimately performing some data analysis once I’ve gotten through all that sorting. But the sorting is very tedious work. Up until yesterday, looking at every single line of data in a several hundred thousand line spreadsheet has been an entirely humorless process, and one during which I have debated sticking toothpicks into my eyes to keep them open, if toothpicks were available.

Yesterday, however, I noticed a few of the titles that had been requested through interlibrary loan, and I would have laughed out loud in my dark little room on my not-height-adjustable excruciatingly uncomfortable intern’s chair, but I didn’t have the energy. This photo demonstrates the level of enthusiasm I found myself able to muster outwardly.

Without further ado, the titles requested by users of my academic library:

Teaching Grammar in Context, Human Rights Watch 2004. Now, I suspect that this is one of the many data errors in the data I’m looking at, but I still found it funny, if it were true, that a human rights organization would be the publisher of a work about teaching grammar in context. It’s funny, right? In my head the humor is entirely bound up in the idea of grammar being pristine and inviolable, and my sense of people in general viewing their abuse of grammar as a basic human right. Ha ha ha!!!

The Ethics of Star Trek. I’m hoping there was an analogy they were making somewhere.

The Ultimate Verbal and Vocabulary Builder. Last time I checked, verbs were vocabulary, too. Does using two words that mean essentially the same thing count as building one’s vocabulary?

And now, my personal favorite:

How to Write A Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. Oh, there’s just so much that could be said about this title. For instance, are we sure that “a lot” is really the best descriptive term with which to title a work about academic writing? Then, there’s the obvious question about whether any academic writing is productive. But put those two things together, and it’s been my experience that having as a goal to write “a lot” does not lead to “productive” writing, unless you measure productivity by quantity of words, rather than quality, or by the overall work’s ability to stand the test of time. I’m just saying. Maybe they could have spent a lot more time on that title.

My principle on principal.

In my free time, I go to library school.  Since I have a full-time job, this means that my evenings and weekends (and whatever paltry social life these might have included before) are generally consumed with doing schoolwork.  But I’m not complaining.  I all-too-frequently find myself shirking responsibility with various distractions — the array of the internet (my new blog, for instance), and (of late, most popularly) sleeping.

However, I find that my patience for lectures, and schoolwork in general, is increasingly diminished by the presence of grammatical or spelling errors in professors’ lectures, or other class materials.

For example.  In one of my classes this quarter, we have been discussing the foundational principles of cataloging.  One of these principles is the Principle of Principal Responsibility.  In the lecture materials, this has been alternately referred to as:  the principal of principal responsibility, the principal of principle responsibility, and the principle of principal responsibility.


In the interest of venting my intolerance in a medium more appropriate than class discussion, a primer:

principal: 1) noun, person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position; 2) adjective, most important, consequential, or influential

principle: 1) noun, a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption

Definitions from http://www.merriam-webster.com

In other words, principal, which can be either a noun or an adjective, and thus modifies responsibility, indicating chief responsibility; and principle, referring to a fundamental assumption, in this context a fundamental assumption of cataloging related to chief responsibility.