Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's Bad Grammar, Baby (Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks)

Throughout our now-almost-ten-years of attending the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Stephen and Pat (my grammar/
punctuation-police buddies) and I would photo-document the various grammatical errors we encountered on signs during the trip surrounding our annual pilgrimage (including vendor signs at the festival itself), which I then incorporate in a calendar (which also includes pictures of friends and performers) I make and give to each for Christmas (keeping one for myself, of course!) - I am now officially in love with Jeff Deck, who takes it one step further (*not* farther... :-)

Photo credit: Stephen Moshkovitz, July 2005 (note the misplaced apostrophe)

Man Drives Cross-Country, Correcting Typos

Jeff Deck is on a mission. Loaded up with a supply of pens, pencils, crayons, erasers, and White-Out, the 28-year-old Dartmouth grad is driving cross-country through America, keeping his eyes peeled for places where he might need to make an emergency stop to offer his assistance. Within minutes of stopping, he's back on the road, headed for another destination in desperate need of help.

So how, you might ask, can Deck help the world using the tools of the classroom? Simple: He corrects its grammar.

As most of us know, it's impossible to leave your house without spotting an array of atrocities against the written word: Unnecessary quotation marks (see this hilarious blog for some glaring examples), misspelled words, and don't even get him started on the travesty of the misplaced apostrophe: "The apostrophe shows up when it's not wanted and is never there when you need it," Deck lamented to ABC News.

So, over the last year, Deck has been driving through long stretches of the country on the look-out for grammatical errors to correct. In New York, he finds a "chicken parmasan" on a menu; in California, he spots "carmel corn" for sale. Each spelling and grammatical correction is carefully documented in Deck's blog, Typo Hunt Across America.

Deck isn't being nit-picky for no reason – he's trying to keep American society from sliding into illiteracy. He doesn't want to watch children grow up thinking "strawberries" is spelled "strawberry's," just because they saw it spelled that way on a sign.

And though Deck may seem a little on the gruff side when it comes to grammar, he's not as judgmental as you might think. "We try not to be jerks about it," he said. "We want to help them out. It's not about making anybody feel bad or making somebody look stupid or something. It's just really about going after the errors themselves."

Sound's like a reel grate gye 2 us. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

P.S. I can't seem to find the lyrics to today's song so I've included a link to their website - I heard Jukies Ball on the Georgia Tech station (very under the radar) when I was in high school and fell in love with their eclectic sound and lyrics. The album Striking It Rich continues to be a favorite - gotta love their harmonies and that sweet violin...

SONG: It's Bad Grammar, Baby by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks

The Grammar Bible: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Grammar but Didn't Know Whom to Ask by Michael Strumpf, Auriel Douglas

POEM: Rules and Regulations by Lewis Carroll

A short direction

To avoid dejection,
By variations
In occupations,
And prolongation
Of relaxation,
And combinations
Of recreations,
And disputation
On the state of the nation
In adaptation
To your station,
By invitations
To friends and relations,
By evitation
Of amputation,
By permutation
In conversation,
And deep reflection
You'll avoid dejection.

Learn well your grammar,
And never stammer,
Write well and neatly,
And sing most sweetly,
Be enterprising,
Love early rising,
Go walk of six miles,
Have ready quick smiles,
With lightsome laughter,
Soft flowing after.
Drink tea, not coffee;
Never eat toffy.
Eat bread with butter.
Once more, don't stutter.

Don't waste your money,
Abstain from honey.
Shut doors behind you,
(Don't slam them, mind you.)
Drink beer, not porter.
Don't enter the water
Till to swim you are able.
Sit close to the table.
Take care of a candle.
Shut a door by the handle,
Don't push with your shoulder
Until you are older.
Lose not a button.
Refuse cold mutton.
Starve your canaries.
Believe in fairies.
If you are able,
Don't have a stable
With any mangers.
Be rude to strangers.

Moral: Behave.

QUOTE: "This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put." ~ attributed to Winston Churchill, rejecting the rule against ending a sentence with a preposition

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