Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's the plural of Prius?

Toyota is asking what the plural of Prius is, and they've got a catchy video to go along with the question:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adjectives and past participles

Returning to Leo Schmitt's most recent Grammatically Speaking column, I'd like to take up the issue of when a past participle becomes an adjective. This point comes up in the "Brain Teaser" section:
The following two sentences are grammatical. They both demonstrate the same exception to a general grammatical rule of English. What is that rule and what is the exception?
1. The Natchez Board of Aldermen last week voted unanimously to demolish the collapsed building at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin streets. (From “City to demolish collapsed building in downtown,” The Natchez Democrat.)
2. Authorities believe an escaped convict on work release ... is responsible for the blaze. (From “Investigators believe escaped convict set Roan Mountain fire,”

Guest post from Leo Schmitt

The following is a guest post from Leo Schmitt, the new Grammatically Speaking columnist whose column I complained about here.


It is nice to know I can count on one regular reader, even if you are only looking for fodder with which to excoriate me. As I have already received some considerable flack from the more 'traditionalist' side, it is a relief to know that I can also count on criticism from supporters of alternative approaches to analyzing grammatical structures.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grammatically speaking, the zombie edition

Grammatically speaking is dead. If only...

Back in September, it was announced that Richard Firsten would stop publishing his monthly column for TESOL. After years pointing out his mistakes, I thought this might be good news. When he let on that the column would not die, but that it would be incarnated by T. Leo Schmitt instead, I was cautiously optimistic. It turns out, though, that Schmitt is little better than Firsten.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Language Corpse/Corpus

Ever heard of the 'Bad Writing Contest'? If you haven't, take a look. It really is wonderfully amusing and amazing.

We are accustomed to seeing linguistic studies/analyses based on large corpora. We hear so much about word frequencies and collocations and all the rest. But we hardly, if ever, hear about what makes writing good or bad, based on solid, scientific linguistic studies, while we can tell bad from good writing with relative ease. There must be something there waiting to be explored ...

Meanwhile, the Bad Writing Contest: guaranteed to make you laugh out loud, and perhaps make you think too.