I have a column in this month’s Grammar and Beyond newsletter on one of my favorite topics: noun + noun modification. It’s a nice segue from my recent articles on shifting from everyday to academic registers using nominalization and relative clauses. Suggestions for future topics are especially welcome right now!
I also just discovered that the reason I couldn’t get the title of this post to look right is that we say titbit in British English but tidbit in American English. Apparently, according to my favorite blog on the subject, this isn’t a case of Puritanical prudishness (you may titter all you like, dear reader), but an example of American English using the historically older form while British English goes off on its own tangent.
And yes, the piece of paper on the table was my cheat sheet (I don’t get a teleprompter!). It was actually quite easy to tie my book into AWGS because Swales & Feak’s approach to writing is inextricably linked to language (grammar and vocabulary), and they were already using a somewhat functional approach to grammar. In fact, the third edition has a wonderful expanded discussion of old-new information patterns, which I develop in the last unit of Grammar Choices (my students’ favorite part of the book, usually).
We put a lot of thought into how much new terminology to introduce in Grammar Choices, and on the advice of Chris Feak (as in Swales & Feak) and our mutual editor, Kelly Sippell, I tried to stick to terms (technically, a metalanguage) that would be familiar at least to North American readers and especially to those using AWGS. I also wrote an expanded introduction which explains concepts that are a little less frequently used here, as well as a glossary. I was greatly encouraged at the Genre 2012 conference to hear Jim Martin, no less, of Sydney University endorse teaching materials that simplify systemic functional grammar’s daunting metalanguage into familiar terms, so hopefully my attempt to use functional principles with more “traditional” (structuralist) terminology will help writers benefit from the major insights of functional grammar without me having to explain it or them having to learn it!
I just got word that my new textbook, Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers, has been printed and will be on show at the Symposium of Second Language Writing at Purdue this week (which is also when I’ll get my hands on an advance copy!).
You can also see it here on the University of Michigan Press website and download Unit 1 to whet your grammatical appetite!
Update (9/6/12): I just saw a pile of the books here at SSLW. Makes it all seem rather more real!
While I was working at the University of North Carolina, I made a series of online workshops for ESL students who didn’t have time to attend the face-to-face sessions we offered. (I call them the bobble-head videos, for reasons which will be obvious if you watch one!) Since then, the Writing Center has reorganized their website (looks slick, guys!), and many of the links I’ve posted on the blog previously don’t work. So, here are the direct links to all the videos:
Update 1/22/13: The video links are not working — either there’s a problem with the server, or UNC has canceled its account with Panopto. I’m working on a solution, but in the meantime, please use the PDFs, and you can just imagine my talking head …
Paraphrasing and plagiarism 1: Using sources (video) (pdf)
Paraphrasing and plagiarism 2: Preparing a paraphrase (video) (pdf)
Paraphrasing and plagiarism 3: Writing a summary (video) (pdf)
Since I last wrote, a very patient typesetter has decoded the multiple layers of corrections and changes made by the editor, development editor, and myself to the “copy” (the marked-up version of the manuscript) and set the text as it will look in the printed book. I then read through everything to make sure nothing had slipped through and everything still made sense. Independently, a proofreader checked for typos, inconsistencies, and other oddities. Then, the editor–the wonderful Kelly Sippell, ESL manager for the University of Michigan Press–reconciled the two sets of proofs and scoured the whole book with her eagle eyes. That led to a bunch of gently worded questions like “are you sure this reference to section 4.11 is correct?” (there is no section 4.11). With those resolved, the book marches on towards final editing and printing, appearing on the shelves some time in September, we expect.
The strangest error we found was in a table of statistics that I’ve used in a data commentary exercise. The table shows how different generations use social media for job hunting. It’s from an authentic source, but I mistyped the labels so that the generations covered were X (18-29), Y (40-47), and boomers (48-65). Yep, I created a missing generation … which includes me! For the record, Generation Y is defined in the report as 30-47. That’s why we have proofreaders to make sure our bread doesn’t fall flat.
It must be nearly Father’s Day because there’s been a spike of activity on the blog this week as readers find our annual discussion of the apostrophe (2010 and 2011).
Now it seems that the British government has heard our plea and is reinforcing the teaching of the apostrophe in the soon-to-be-revised National Curriculum for English. Perhaps future generations of English schoolchildren will be able to correct us all. The latest draft for primary (elementary) English includes:
There will be a focus on grammar – for instance, children will be expected to understand how to use the subjunctive and correct use of the apostrophe – for example, not using it to indicate plurals such as “I went to buy some apple’s” or using “it’s” as a possessive.
This raises the question of what the writers think they mean by the subjunctive: presumably the unreal conditional form if I were the Prime Minister unless they are trying to bring back the present subjunctive, We insist that apostrophes be taught better, which has all but vanished from British English.
From one grammar dad to another, happy Father’s Day!
My new textbook, Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers is one step closer to publication! This a picture of the copyedited manuscript (about a ream of paper!), which I have reviewed, revised, rewritten in places, and am now ready to put in a big box and send it to Ann Arbor.
This has been a really fascinating step in the development of the book because it involved a development editor who was not familiar with the project checking every word I wrote and making suggestions and corrections. Quite a lot has been changed at this stage – we found examples that didn’t make sense, exercises which were too hard, and explanations which were rather strange! My students have helped by pointing out questions they couldn’t answer and answers that didn’t fit the questions.
Now, the managing editor will review my comments and make final decisions, and then a typesetter will figure out how to interpret the multiple layers of notes to turn the manuscript into “pages” (basically a PDF proof of the book), which will be checked and revised again before we go to print. And good luck to the typesetter, as you can see!
This is a recording of my session at TESOL 2012 in Philadelphia introducing my forthcoming textbook, “Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Students.” Thanks to the ELI’s videographer, Lowell Riethmuller!
If you’re in the great city of Philadelphia for TESOL 2012, please join me for two presentations on teaching graduate writing:
Making Grammar Choices in Advanced Academic Writing (introducing my new textbook, Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writers from the University of Michigan Press). Thursday, 4pm, room 118B.
Preparing for Excellence: Strategies for Teaching Graduate Writing with Chris Feak, Grace Canseco, and Jennifer Greer. Friday, 10am, Marriot Independence Ballroom I.
I noticed that one of the most popular posts on the blog this week is our protracted discussion of the apostrophe in Fathers’/Father’s Day (continued here) because tomorrow is … drum roll, please …Valentine’s Day.
And this apostrophe isn’t controversial at all, thankfully. This pseudo-holiday is named for Saint Valentine (the History Channel has a very nice page on the unfortunate lover), and since the day belongs to him, grammatically it’s a straightforward possessive. So, stick the apostrophe before the -s and worry about more important things. Like giving your English teacher chocolate.
Of course, I could muddy the waters by reminding you that there is a countable common noun “valentine” (the card that you might send/receive), and thus a plural noun “valentines,” so if the day were actually re-named for the cards … well, never mind. If you hit on this page looking for the correct spelling, I doubt very much you’ll appreciate that line of thought.
Which reminds me to send a public v/Valentine to my lovely wife. Who said I’m not a romantic?