Originally posted December 15, 2007. After eight years look for another English rant coming soon.
The other day The Big Guy was reading my blog and informed me that I needed a comma for some reason or another. This lead to lively and humorous dialogue about my not needing commas and semi-colons. TBG that it would be a great topic for a blog. Of course, he thinks everything makes a great blog topic.
If you read much of my writing you will probably realize that I have little need for commas. Unless you are like me and then you will think everything is just fine. A friend that used to proofread my papers in grad school was always telling me I really needed to learn to use commas. Okay, I know commas are used in dates, addresses, series and after a clause but after that it gets fuzzy. It’s not that I’m anti-comma, I just don’t see the need for them. At least a comma is a little more useful than a semi-colon. You are probably thinking: didn’t I learn that stuff back in high school English. I’m sure my English teachers taught about commas and semi-colons but I was probably not listening, bothering someone or reading a book. If my teacher didn’t tell me, I’m sure my English teacher mom did. Somehow along the way I just didn’t pick up on all of the rules of grammar and was able to sort of fake my way through class. My vocabulary and oral language skills have always been advanced, thanks to my mom. I learned grammar orally based on what sounded correct and not written.
A related topic is sentence diagramming. That is one activity that I just hated. In theory, the practice of breaking a sentence apart and drawing a bunch of silly lines is supposed to teach the parts of speech. Of course in my dyslexic brain that is not what happened. I had to focus on drawing the lines and where things went. Gee, I’m doing good some days just to remember right and left and then you want me to draw a bunch of silly lines. I never understood the purpose. Why would I want to make a silly illustration with a sentence? If you want me to identify the parts of speech then just ask. In college, I learned that diagramming has no educational benefits because it takes the parts of speech out of context. Labeling the parts of speech in context is more effective. I think it is just a form of torture invented by English teachers.
Another form of torture is spelling test. I’m dyslexic and dysgraphic and spelling just isn’t my thing. I have always been a poor speller. Yes, I’ve been told many times that unless I learned to spell correctly I would never be successful in school. OK, I have a masters degree and I still can’t spell well. However, I have learned that spell check is my friend. I actually know what the little red and green squiggly lines are and how to use them. In college, I remember one of my professors saying that spelling as a subject matter above 4th grade was pointless. Either you could spell or you couldn’t. Above 4th grade spelling tests would just torture bad spellers. Did my teachers really think making me write all of the words I missed on a spelling test 10 times each would teach me how to spell? I had already written each word 5 times each, in a sentence and the definition earlier in the week. Gee, it didn’t help much.
Well, this brings me to my last rant. Do you ever remember asking a teacher or parent how to spell a word and being told to look it up in the dictionary? This always left me wondering how to look up something I had no idea how to spell. Another reply that I found equally frustrating was being told to sound out the word. That may sound like an easy enough task for most people. Until you throw in the added challenge of being dyslexic. Apparently, my brain doesn’t necessarily connect letter with sounds.
After all of my rants about English you may think I did poorly and just didn’t like the class. English was usually one of my favorite classes especially literature. My grades were usually B’s because I didn’t really apply myself.
After reading this you have probably realized that I don’t use commas much. The Big Guy just informed me that I am missing a lot of commas. Here are some extra commas , , , , , , just insert where needed.