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.
The winning haiku:
I am an error
And I will reveal myself
After you press “send”
The second-place haiku was written by Tom Freeman, a copy editor in the publishing department of a medical-research charity in London.
A man eating fish
was saved by a hyphen from
a man-eating fish
Freeman blogs at stroppyeditor.wordpress.com.
The question comes up every year whether a National Grammar Day contest can accept entries from other nations. But we’re sort of light on rules at National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest headquarters. Our first winner was Canadian. An Irishman placed fifth last year and returns with an honorable mention this year. Freeman also earned an honorable mention in 2012. Fifth place this year went to an entry from Copenhagen, Denmark.
Perhaps we should consider National Grammar Day to encompass the English language nation.
Dear yoga teacher:
If you say “lay down” once more,
I’ll hurt you. No lie.
Judges chose business consultant Wendy Lynch’s haiku for fourth place:
my existential crisis
I am, was, will be
And the fifth-place haiku was by Josh Evans, a researcher with Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen.
Is mood subjective?
Would that the subjunctive be
more than just a mood
There were many honorable mentions. And grammar aficionados are encouraged to look through all the entries at the event Storify. Here are the entries the judges deemed particularly worthy of honorable mention:
To tell grammar nuts
from regular folks, (see if
this makes them crazy
Grammar does its thing
In spite of sticklers’ wishes.
Omit needless rules.
Is it an eggcorn
or an autocorrect fail?
My interest is peaked.
“I can’t swim very good”
were Jim’s last words; he never
saw the well coming
is a lovely sort of word to
end a sentence with
Loo what sholde a man
in thyse dayes now wryte
egges, or eyren
Litter your lines with
“literally”; I’ll go nuts.
Our judges were:
- Martha Barnette (@MarthaBarnette), host of the nationally syndicated public radio program “A Way with Words,” public speaker and author of several books.
- Martha Brockenbrough (@mbrockenbrough), founder of National Grammar Day and the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, and author of “Things That Make Us (Sic)” and the young adult novel “Devine Intervention.”
- Larry Kunz (@larry_kunz), technical writer in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area, project manager and senior information developer for SDI Global Solutions, instructor at Duke University, and fellow with the Society for Technical Communication.
- Bill Walsh (@TheSlot), Washington Post copy editor and author of “Lapsing into a Comma,” “The Elephants of Style,” and the forthcoming, “Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk.”
- Ben Zimmer (@bgzimmer), executive producer of Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com, language columnist for the Boston Globe, and a frequent guest commentator on emerging words and language issues.
Check out the official National Grammar Day website for more March 4 activities.