Dozens of 17-syllable poems have already been submitted for The National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest. Follow the Twitter hashtag #grammarday, the official hashtag of National Grammar Day.
Check them out here: http://twitter.com//search/GrammarDay.
I’m hosting the haiku contest to help celebrate the binding principles of the English language. The top prize is a copy of “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing,” by National Grammar Day host Mignon Fogarty, and your choice of a t-shirt or mug with my favorite piece of writing advice at my new Café Press shop: www.cafepress.com/EditorMark.
For all our finalists, glory and accolades await.
Grammar, usage and style are what we use to hold language together so it appears with a sense of order and fulfills its basic function. The English language is alive and constantly changing. The rules either allow for flexibility or, after some struggle, change to fit the needs of the language. This change comes not from chaos but from order, and National Grammar Day celebrates our collective, ordered approach to the English language.
Haiku is a Japanese poetry form familiar to schoolchildren with a structure and style that allows for flexibility. Strictly speaking, it should focus on nature or the seasons, but it often strays from convention. While critics might carefully count syllables, the point is not conformity but a sense of rhythm that produces a desired effect.
Twitter is a medium that allows quick communication of brief messages to those who have opted to hear what the writer has to say. It celebrates brevity and clarity of language in an era of verbosity.
To help celebrate the binding principles of the English language, I’m hosting a contest featuring the Japanese form of haiku through the medium of Twitter. The National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest will convey upon the winner the glory and immortality that comes with having his or her winning haiku permanently embedded in digital archives somewhere. Also, prizes.
Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the other forms. Languages are produced democratically, and perhaps none remains more democratic than English. In other words, English is messy. It has conflicting rules about certain things and no rules where there really ought to be one.
If we had a language run by a benevolent oligarchy, we’d have a neutral third-person singular pronoun by now. We don’t. And for now, we just have to live with it.
Another case where our language fails us is in the awkwardness of linking an object to a plural subject, also known as subject-complement agreement. Should we refer to one object or multiple objects? This is a consistent question I get, and it always causes me to scratch my head.