Here are the winning winners in the Tweeted Haiku Contest

Arika Okrent’s 17 syllables captured the hearts of the judges, but there were scores of worthy entries in the National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest. The initial screening of 269 entries down to the top 10 resulted in 17 possibilities, and then judges asked to add another 11 back to the mix.

The five-judge panel then went into seclusion in the virtual grammar conclave for most of Sunday before they emerged with a winner, four runners up, and a mess of honorable mentions.

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arika okrent / the judges loudly proclaim / winning haikuist

Arika Okrent tapped into a universal feeling of realization and dread when she wrote her winning entry for the 2013 National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest:

arika-okrentI am an error
And I will reveal myself
After you press send

Soon after, she tweeted an amendment:

Make that “send”

“It became a self-fulfilling haiku,” Okrent said. “I wish I could say I planned it that way.”

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Funny, but it’s still rock ‘n’ roll to me

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (small)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (small) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been tweeting in lieu of blogging lately, but sometimes a matter deserves more attention than a string of related tweets. Such is the case with “rock ‘n’ roll.” Dictionaries and style guides differ on how to write a colloquial expression written informally for 60 years or more. “Rock and roll” seems fine and formal, but “rock ‘n’ roll” appears to be the more common form.

Even in the 1950s, it was rendered as “rock ‘n’ roll” as often or more often than “rock and roll,” according to Google Books data. Take a look here: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=rock+and+roll%2Crock++%27n%27+roll&year_start=1950&year_end=1980&corpus=0&smoothing=3

The Associated Press Stylebook prefers “rock ‘n’ roll,” but points out that it’s the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” The New York Times agrees with “rock ‘n’ roll,” as does Yahoo! and the Better Homes and Gardens style guide (everyone seems to have an opinion). Style for Britain’s Guardian newspaper is rock’n’roll, no spaces. National Geographic says “rock-and-roll.”

The American Heritage Dictionary gives “rock-and-roll” as its first spelling. Merriam-Webster Unabridged calls “rock and roll” a variant of “rock ‘n’ roll.” Merriam-Webster Collegiate calls “rock ‘n’ roll” a variant of “rock and roll.”

The Oxford English Dictionary has “rock and roll” references going back to 1939, but that was something else. As with many good phrases, the better use came later. Early references from the 1950s in the OED vary, and include the spelling  “rock ‘n roll” on an early (jazz) album sleeve. But let’s agree to avoid that; the second apostrophe serves a purpose.

Chicago Manual of Style suggests we make sure the first apostrophe in rock ‘n’ roll is truly an apostrophe and not a single open quote mark.

I remember copy editing a syndicated Dave Barry column that started with a note to editors. Not a note intended for publication, but an appeal to editors to keep his spelling, which I think was “rock and roll.” But there’s probably at least a 70 percent chance that I’m wrong on this.

Last word (for now) goes to Bryan A. Garner, who offers no clear advice other than the suggestion that “rock” has become so common, we probably don’t need to worry so much.

I may return to this post another day, so I’m happy to hear your insight into this important topic.

Allow me to dangle the winning haiku in front of you

Judging for the 2012 National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest was as difficult as any in the history of the event. Nearly 200 entries were submitted. The best way to get the full flavor of the event is to visit the Storify that contains them.

But save that for after the big announcement. Judges had a clear favorite:

Being a dangler,
Jane knew it would have to come
out of the sentence

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March forth and write haiku to celebrate National Grammar Day

Without grammar, your
haiku would fall to pieces.
I think I’ll tweet that.

The National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest is back. Nearly 180 poems were entered into last year’s contest. They were brilliant. Even picking the best 10 was very difficult. But, National Grammar Day falls on a Sunday this year, so the organizers decided they could handle having another go at it.

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