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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Me and Grammar (Or should that be Grammar and I?)


I'll admit it, I love me some grammar.  I just get down and roll in it, I love it so much.  The school year is just starting, and I'm reviewing parts of speech with my little cherubs, and yes, I know, ho-hum, but grammar is so cool.  Like, you take Shakespeare.


Wild Bill Shakespeare
Grammar was His Bitch
In Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke, who's just invaded England, greets the Duke of York as "my gracious uncle," and York angrily retorts, "Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle."  Isn't that slick?  Wild Bill makes "grace" and "uncle" into verbs, and when you call someone, "uncle," you "uncle him."

Here's another.  In Romeo and Juliet, the apothecary is afraid to sell Romeo poison because, "Mantua's law is death to any he that utters them."  "Utters" is nice - even to mention the name of the poison is a death penalty, but my favorite part is "any he."  Any he?  Any he?  What Shakespeare's doing is using a personal pronoun like an indefinite pronoun.  It's like guys cruising for chicks saying, "Let's go see if we can pick up some shes."  Actually, that is pretty cool, and I think I'll have some characters say exactly that the next opportunity I get.

Now in case you think I'm joking, here's one last one.  All of a sudden.  You've said that one before yourself, haven't you.  Well, Shakespeare coined that phrase in Taming of the Shrew.  Take a second to think how odd that phrase is.  Grammatically it makes no sense.  Sudden is an adjective, it cannot be the object of a preposition, but that's how Shakespeare uses it.  It's like saying, "All of a gradually," or "All of a slowly."  Those other two expressions wouldn't work, because they aren't about suddenness.  We get to the end of that phrase, "all of a sudden," and subconsciously we're thinking, where's the noun?  And there is no noun!  Whoa!  It's just sudden.  The expression itself is sudden, get it?

Okay, that's enough, I'll stop.

But I love me some grammar.  

1 comment:

  1. Actually...to be a parallel to "all of a gradually" or "all of a slowly"...it would have to be "all of a suddenly'". To be a direct parallel to "all of a sudden", it would have to be "all of a gradual" or "all of a slow".
    And I really like that "all of a gradual". Instead of being something that happens quickly, it would mean something that slowly creeps up on you that you hardly notice it until it is too late. "And the poor frog realized that all of a gradual the water was boiling!"

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