Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How I Quit Correcting & Grading & Learned to Love it & Love it love it

How I Quit Correcting

and Grading and
Learned to Love
it & Love it
love it.

Rules people learn in school
are prescriptive rules. They
prescribe how one “ought”
to talk.

Linguists studying language
propose descriptive rules,
describing how we do talk.

Can you tell the difference
between prescription and
description? The relationship?

How they Just Get Along or
do not?

One can choose to obsess
over prescriptive rules, but
they have no more to do with
human language than the
criteria for judging cats at
a cat show have to do with
mammalian biology. (Pinker)

For those not in love,
there’s LAW to rule,
to regulate, to rectify.
(Wm Gass)

How can we do without
shibboleths, without escape
goats? I split infinitives
when I have half a mind
to really really feel like it.

Does a dolphin mis-swim?
White-throated sparrows
fudge calls? Chickadees
awkwardly construct nests?
Humpback whales commit
solecisms singing songs of
oceanic relativity? Do
Monkey conversations
degenerate over the years?

But WE, we say sadly, we
are always turning into a notion
of functional illiteracy: misusing
“hopefully,” confusing “lie” &
“lay,” treating “data” as a
singular noun, letting our
participles shamelessly

And so:

our language fashion
dictators, red carpet
Howard Cosel Com-
Mentators bossing
style proclaiming
linguistic good & evil:
legislating English thru
the conspiracy of copy
editors, dictionary usage
panelists, style manual
& handbook writers,
English teachers, essay
writers, columnists, &
pundits: their authority
rising-up from dedication
to standards maximizing
and expressive range.

Some claim to safeguard
our ability to THINK
clearly and logically which
is why we require first year
composition again & again
even as these kids coming in
with 12 yrs training can’t
never write right damnit
we’ll see about that!

xxxooo, Sam

& I have ripped-off,
mixed-up, collapsed,
conflated, confused
& reconfigured
Steven Pinker’s
“The Language Mavins,”
from The Language Instinct:
How the Mind Creates Language.

Once introduced, a prescriptive
rule is very hard to eradicate, no
matter how ridiculous. Inside the
educational and writing establish-
mentalism. rules survive by the
same dynamic that perpetuates
ritual genital mutilations and
college fraternity hazing: “I had
to go through it and am none the
worse, so why should you have it
any easier?”

Beware! Clever Hans Effect!

Once I quit correcting and grading
I was amazed by the glory shine:
flashing intelligence, imagination,
wit, fancy, knowledge, noggin
notions at play— no Clever Hans
effect or brown gnosis need apply;
& I can almost always tell what they
are saying & mean & talk back myself;
like pulling black plastic off the straw
berry patch—weeds and weedy sure:
autochthonic, inchoate emergence,
rich, redolent, diversity: a King My
Dust touch you have no idea; call it
local food & take my word for it.

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