Mater Melvin begats a lengthy grammar lesson

29 11 2013

I originally posted this photo and brief blog entry on July 28, 2008. For this re-post, I’m including the ensuing grammar lesson that resulted from this harmless little photo of some homegrown tomatoes. 

I just picked these little jewels from the garden this afternoon. As I was carrying them inside, I thought…hmmm…two yellow ones…they look like big orbs…with eyes! And I have just enough new cherry tomatoes to form…a smile….oh, and what looks great with bright golden yellow and orange-red? Cornflower-french blue! Oh, and what about rosemary eyebrows?

While I realize the concept of playing with your food (and photographing it) isn’t a new concept, I felt (creatively) compelled to do it anyway. So…voila! I present to you—‘Mater Melvin. How can this colorful little concoction not make you smile? Step away from your desk and go grow something!

_____________________________________

And the comments started coming in…

My friend Sue responded as I would hope a viewer would: “Mater Melvin looks good enough to eat!”

She was followed by my father (aka “The King of Texas”): MATER: — noun — an informal use of the Latin word for mother, sometimes used by British schoolboys or used facetiously. Also refers to a female parent, a mother—a woman who has given birth to a child (also used as a term of address to your mother). I submit this only to point out that Melvin may feel compromised by the application of the term “mater.” Perhaps the graphic might better be termed “‘mater Melva.” I fully realize that in this case, as in so many others, I am “neet peeking” but I can’t resist it—it’s in my nature!

And here is my response: And now, my dearest friends, you can finally understand why I am so compelled to correct (some of) you when you misuse “lie” vs. “lay.” I explain that a “dove” is a bird and not something you do off a diving board. I correct you when you use “I” vs. “me” at the end of a sentence. I lecture that “irregardless” is crude and unacceptable in most circles (i.e. mine). The word is “regardless.” I insist that you put the periods and commas inside the quotation marks. I preach when to use “further” vs. “farther.” I cringe when you use “its” in the possessive form when you mean to use it as a contraction (or vice versa). You can just imagine how I must feel when someone misuses “lose” vs. “loose” when they are writing. I can’t help it. I am my father’s daughter. The apple never fell from the tree.

Repeating the words of my lifelong Grammar Guru: I can’t resist it—it’s in my nature! (You can direct your complaints to Mr. Dyer now.)

Oh, and for the record, Grammar Guru says one should always avoid using exclamation points. He says using one in a sentence is like laughing at your own joke. (I ask him why God made exclamation points in the first place if he didn’t want us to use them. He has no answer for that one.) I break with tradition here and must admit that I have been known to use one when I’m truly excited (on paper). However, I do think using two is a tad much (I’m sure you’ll agree). And three? Egads!!!

Read my Dad’s comment about rampant misuse of quotation marks:
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2006/03/30/dad-doing-what-he-does-best/

The King of Texas then responds with: Thanks a lot, mi hija—you may have exposed me to a flood of rebuttals on the conjugation of the verb “to dive.” In anticipation of that flood and at the risk of overloading your comments section, I offer the following ramble:

The old school conjugation of “to dive” (a la McGuffey’s Reader), present, past and future—is dive, dived and dived (I dive today, I dived yesterday, and by this time tomorrow I will have dived again). Virtually every source, including the college edition of The American Heritage Dictionary, shows “dove” and “dived” as acceptable past tenses of the verb “to dive.” Many people choose “dove” over “dived,” one syllable rather than two, notably in cold northern regions (we in more tolerable climates speak a bit slower and prefer two syllables).

We have, over time, perhaps corrupted the past tense of the verb “to dive” because of its similarity to other verbs such as drive (drive, drove, driven) and strive (strive, strove, striven). However, its inclusion in the dictionary doesn’t make it right—one also finds a four-letter synonym (verb, noun, etc.) for excrement in the dictionary, but the term is not used by literate persons—at least not in polite conversation (not even in the colder regions). It’s available to all, of course, but its indiscriminate use immediately labels the speaker.

And now, a short history of the transition from “dived” to “dove” (fromhttp://www.thefreedictionary.com):

Either dove or dived is acceptable as the past tense of dive. Usage preferences show regional distribution, although both forms are heard throughout the United States. According to the Dictionary of American Regional English, in the North, dove is more prevalent; in the South Midland, dived. Dived is actually the earlier form, and the emergence of dove may appear ANOMALOUS (please note the definition below) in light of the general tendencies of change in English verb forms.

Definition added (from Merriam-Webster):

ANOMALOUS:
1: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected : irregular, unusual.
2: of uncertain nature or classification b: marked by incongruity or contradiction.

The use of “dove” as a past tense of dive, according to Merriam-Webser, is therefore inconsistent, deviating, unusual, abnormal, unexpected, irregular, uncertain, incongruous and contradictory. Given all those negatives, I can’t imagine why anyone would use, or even think of using “dove” in that manner.

Let’s face it—it’s a bird!

Back to the history lesson from http://www.thefreedictionary.com;

Old English had two classes of verbs: strong verbs, whose past tense was indicated by a change in their vowel (a process that survives in such present-day English verbs as drive/drove or fling/flung); and weak verbs, whose past was formed with a suffix related to -ed in Modern English (as in present-day English live/lived and move/moved). Since the Old English period, many verbs have changed from the strong pattern to the weak one; for example, the past tense of step, formerly stop, became stepped. Over the years, in fact, the weak pattern has become so prevalent that we use the term regular to refer to verbs that form their past tense by suffixation of -ed. However, there have occasionally been changes in the other direction: the past tense of wear, now wore, was once werede, and that of spit, now spat, was once spitede. The development of dove is an additional example of the small group of verbs that have swum against the historical tide.

Yes, I know—I have a lot of time on my hands.

Then my friend Jeff tops it off with this humorous response: Oh. My. God. Oh wait, I mean, of course, Oh!!! My!!! God!!! And who says 110 in the shade is a more tolerable climate? I mean, really.
— Jeff “I don’t be toleratin’ no periods within my quotation marks” Evans

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Redux x 2: Still unidentified blue pinwheel thingie

7 04 2010

Previously posted in March 2008

I photographed this same type of flower a few years ago (see link here), and I still haven’t been successful in identifying it. I think I’ll take a print to Green Spring Gardens and maybe they can identify it (since they’re the ones who grew it). In the link I just provided, you’ll read my father’s take on the origin of the flower. It was quite involved (he had extra time on his hands, apparently), but still didn’t really identify the flower.

FYI—in reference to my father’s note about not pronouncing the “h” in “herb”—no matter how often I tell him that it’s usually the British who pronounce the “h” in “herb,” he still thinks that’s the only way to pronounce the word. He even points out that if Martha Stewart says it like that, then it must be right. (He says that if “erb” is correct, then we should also say “umongous,” “uge,” and “erbert oover”—as in the name of our 31st President). I’ve done the research and actually—both pronunciations are correct (although he will never agree). Most Americans say it with a silent “h.” Some pronounce the “h” if it’s a person’s name, then don’t when referencing the green stuff. I’m taking a poll, here and now. How many of you pronounce “herb” with the hard h? And what is your reasoning for doing so?

An aside: While searching “pronounciation of the word herb,” I found a synopsis of one of Alexis Stewart’s (Martha’s daughter) radio shows. In it, Alexis says that her mother pronounces it incorrectly and goes on to explain her mother’s reasoning. (Martha and my dad—separated at birth—who knew?). An excerpt from that review is below. I am not responsible for the terrible practice of not capitalizing the first word of each sentence, nor the positioning of the period outside the quotation marks, nor the lower-casing of Martha’s name. I know better than that. I’m hoping the practice of lower-cased i’s and names is simply a phase bloggers are going through, although I sincerely doubt it. What can I say? Aside from the “Great (H)erb Debate,” I am my father’s daughter.

then alexis said that martha says the word “herb” incorrectly. martha pronounces the “h” and claims she pronounces the “h” because, after all, people pronounce the “h” when they say the name herbert, so why shouldn’t they then pronounce the “h” in the word “herb”.  alexis added that trying to explain to martha why her pronunciation is faulty is like playing tennis with a hopelessly bad player – there’s just nothing you can do about it.

If everyone in America was forced to buy the book(s), The Mac is Not a Typewriter or The PC is Not a Typewriter (excellent little books by Robin Williams—the author, not the actor), we would all be (grammatically and publishing-wise) better for it. I imagine Ms. Williams could retire early if that transpired. I know I could finally stop losing sleep over all those excess spaces after periods and misplaced punctuation.

FYI, contrary to the popularity of the practice, you should only put one space after the end of a sentence before beginning a new one. In covered-wagon days, there were proportional typefaces, and every letter and punctuation mark occupied the same width, so two spaces were necessary to make the sentence break clear. These days, the tap of a keyboard spacebar yields 1.5 characters; plenty for spacing before starting a new sentence. Save those extra spaces for other paragraphs—recycle! Old habits are hard to break. I came from the era of typewriters and had the “two space rule” drilled into my head. Then I entered the world of desktop publishing with my very first Mac. If I can break the habit, so can you. Really. Give it a try. Pretty please? It’s the right thing to do (although you may have been blissfully unaware until just now).

And remember, this rule includes just one space after any punctuation—quotation marks, exclamation points (which my father abhors, but that’s another posting), as well as the oft-used periods.

One comment in a forum on the subject of space after periods signed his letter, “Just say NO to Double Spacing!—brought to you by PADSAP (People Against Double Spacing After Periods).

Whaaaa? There’s a club for people like me? Where do I sign up? Hey Dad—maybe we can get a two-for-one membership.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

pinwheelthingie





Blue pinwheel thingie, redux

6 04 2009

I photographed this same type of flower a few years ago (see link here), and I still haven’t been successful in identifying it. I think I’ll take a print to Green Spring Gardens and maybe they can identify it (since they’re the ones who grew it). In the link I just provided, you’ll read my father’s take on the origin of the flower. It was quite involved (he had extra time on his hands, apparently), but still didn’t really identify the flower.

FYI—in reference to my father’s note about not pronouncing the “h” in “herb”—no matter how often I tell him that it’s usually the British who pronounce the “h” in “herb,” he still thinks that’s the only way to pronounce the word. He even points out that if Martha Stewart says it like that, then it must be right. (He says that if “erb” is correct, then we should also say “umongous,” “uge,” and “erbert oover”—as in the name of our 31st President). I’ve done the research and actually—both pronunciations are correct (although he will never agree). Most Americans say it with a silent “h.” Some pronounce the “h” if it’s a person’s name, then don’t when referencing the green stuff. I’m taking a poll, here and now. How many of you pronounce “herb” with the hard h? And what is your reasoning for doing so?

An aside: While searching “pronounciation of the word herb,” I found a synopsis of one of Alexis Stewart’s (Martha’s daughter) radio shows. In it, Alexis says that her mother pronounces it incorrectly and goes on to explain her mother’s reasoning. (Martha and my dad—separated at birth—who knew?). An excerpt from that review is below. I am not responsible for the terrible practice of not capitalizing the first word of each sentence, nor the positioning of the period outside the quotation marks, nor the lower-casing of Martha’s name. I know better than that. I’m hoping the practice of lower-cased i’s and names is simply a phase bloggers are going through, although I sincerely doubt it. What can I say? Aside from the “Great (H)erb Debate,” I am my father’s daughter.

then alexis said that martha says the word “herb” incorrectly. martha pronounces the “h” and claims she pronounces the “h” because, after all, people pronounce the “h” when they say the name herbert, so why shouldn’t they then pronounce the “h” in the word “herb”.  alexis added that trying to explain to martha why her pronunciation is faulty is like playing tennis with a hopelessly bad player – there’s just nothing you can do about it.

If everyone in America was forced to buy the book(s), The Mac is Not a Typewriter or The PC is Not a Typewriter (excellent little books by Robin Williams—the author, not the actor), we would all be (grammatically and publishing-wise) better for it. I imagine Ms. Williams could retire early if that transpired. I know I could finally stop losing sleep over all those excess spaces after periods and misplaced punctuation.

FYI, contrary to the popularity of the practice, you should only put one space after the end of a sentence before beginning a new one. In covered-wagon days, there were proportional typefaces, and every letter and punctuation mark occupied the same width, so two spaces were necessary to make the sentence break clear. These days, the tap of a keyboard spacebar yields 1.5 characters; plenty for spacing before starting a new sentence. Save those extra spaces for other paragraphs—recycle! Old habits are hard to break. I came from the era of typewriters and had the “two space rule” drilled into my head. Then I entered the world of desktop publishing with my very first Mac. If I can break the habit, so can you. Really. Give it a try. Pretty please? It’s the right thing to do (although you may have been blissfully unaware until just now).

And remember, this rule includes just one space after any punctuation—quotation marks, exclamation points (which my father abhors, but that’s another posting), as well as the oft-used periods.

One comment in a forum on the subject of space after periods signed his letter, “Just say NO to Double Spacing!—brought to you by PADSAP (People Against Double Spacing After Periods).

Whaaaa? There’s a club for people like me? Where do I sign up? Hey Dad—maybe we can get a two-for-one membership.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

pinwheelthingie