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  1. #1

    Grammar News

    April 1, 2019. The annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of English Grammar (SAEG) was held this past weekend in Miami. In an earth-shattering decision, a new grammatical category was created.

    At issue was an esoteric but harmless grammatical construct called left-dislocation -- taking a phrase out of a sentence, moving it to the front, and then replacing the removed phrase with a pronoun. A seemingly noncontroversial motion was made to declare this construct grammatical.

    However, this construct currently is not taught as a part of grammar, nor is it often used in actual writing. The general feeling was against suggesting a legitimacy that might cause left-dislocation to be taught or more widely used. So this motion failed by a vote of 23 to 67.

    Melvin Laird then motioned to declare this construct ungrammatical. The advocates for left-dislocation noted that it had never been categorized as ungrammatical, to which Laird replied, "Well, the times, they are a-changin'." This light-hearted quip proved to be his undoing, and the motion failed by 4 to 86.

    At this point Lauren Chen, the chair and president of SAEG, looked around the room and said, "This is worse than Brexit."

    Caucusing went late into the night and into the next day, but by the next afternoon a consensus had been reached: The left-dislocation was voted to be "semi-grammatical." In the so-called Yoda Amendment, the construction of starting a phrase with the object was also voted as semi-grammatical.

    This apparently made Yoda's style of speaking semi-grammatical, suggesting that grammarians have a sense of humor. Who knew?

    Putting exclamation marks within sentences, that was also proposed for semi-grammaticality. That proposal would have facilitated the use of exclamation marks in longer sentences. However, the overwhelming sentiment was that this usage was archaic, so withdrawn the motion was.

    A Y/A author noted helpfully that the same effect could be created by putting the exclamation mark within parenthesis. This was loudly booed (!), and, in a stinging rebuke, a motion was immediately passed by voice vote clarifying that no sentence should end with more than one exclamation mark.

    I spoke with Marvin Laird afterwards. His disgust no attempt he made to hide it. "Semi-grammatical? Is that like being semi-pregnant?" I asked the president, Lauren Chen, about this comment and she said, "That isn't even semi-logical. This new category represents a wise resolution to a difficult grammatical issue, and the members of SAEG are to be congratulated."

    Due to lack of time, the issue of representing the dramatic pause was tabled until next year.
    Last edited by EmmaSohan; April 1st, 2019 at 02:31 PM. Reason: formatting
    How to write a good start: Hidden Content . Useful, original information. Long and thorough.
    Includes Hidden Content (do you start with description?), Hidden Content (a favorite with publishers apparently), starting with Hidden Content (a lost art), and more.

  2. #2
    The cultural reference is explained here. "The Times They Are a-Changing" is a famous song by Bob Dylan, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature; that title apparently is a well-known example.

    You would not use these constructs often, but this is a link to a grammatical discussion of left-dislocation. Links to my writings on these two esoteric topics, which are long but take a writer's perspective, are in my signature. And I am happy to discuss them here.
    Last edited by EmmaSohan; April 1st, 2019 at 02:43 PM.
    How to write a good start: Hidden Content . Useful, original information. Long and thorough.
    Includes Hidden Content (do you start with description?), Hidden Content (a favorite with publishers apparently), starting with Hidden Content (a lost art), and more.

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