Monday, April 26, 2010

Groovin + grammarin

This weekend I was trolling the Internets and ran across this song at  I know chances are slim you will click on this link--after all, clicking on the hyperlinks in a blog post indicates a certain, shall we say, lack of a life.  I know this because I click on hyperlinks.  So that fully admitted, I would like to try and get you to click on the link because I believe it will really make you happy to hear this song.  It's called "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now," and if it doesn't put a smile on your face and a little bounce in your foot, then frankly you need medical attention.

It's a brass band jam from a New Orleans outfit called the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.  I loved this quote from the article that preceded the music samples:

William Claiborne, the first American governor of the Louisiana territory, believed New Orleans was ungovernable due to the citizenry's preoccupation with dancing.
Holy moly, what a wonderful world it would be if that was our problem in the usa today.  If everyone just sort of took to the streets and danced.  Great music would be playing all the time, and our spirits would all be a little lighter.  I know it's Monday and I'm a little groggy, but I don't think this idea sounds that crazy.  The only time I dance nowadays is at weddings, and when I crash into my bed afterward, I always say to myself, "We really gotta do that more often."  But then we just go another year until the next wedding.   Occasionally, I'll wiggle a little when a good song comes on my ipod and there's no one else around, but that's not enough!

So, humor me?

Now, humor me again.  I have something I need to say as a writer, a reader, an almost-teacher, a language-lover, and an avid sentence-diagram-er.  It's directed at the whole world--again, I delude myself into thinking this blog has wide readership.  So here it is, take it to heart, paint it on your wall, tattoo it on your tush:

The period goes inside the quotation marks. 

And you can quote me on that.  "The period goes inside the quotation marks."

So does the comma in the middle of the sentence: We tell Elaine that we are "heartbroken," but alas, to us, Franklin was just a goldfish.

Now, apparently the British do it differently, but we are not British.  (If you happen to be British and reading this, please by all means do it your way, we'll agree to disagree.)

I fear that you will take me for a stuck-up grammarian.  I am not at all that way.  I enjoy a well-thought out sentence, and people who can speak clearly and eloquently off-the-cuff always impress me, but in truth I believe that, given time, anything can become grammatical.  That is to say, if we make it part of our vernacular, then it becomes correct and we must accept it.  Saying "ain't" ain't pretty, but we know what someone means when they say it, so it's grammatical--it makes sense.  Language constantly mutates and builds upon itself, and it's crazy not to adapt along with it; it's how we all came to say, "cool" to everything.  But for the love of Pete, World, you gotta keep those periods and commas contained.  They look goofy and desperate hanging out like that!  They are like prostitutes out on the sidewalk that must be hastily ushered inside, so that no one gets offended, or, worse, the wrong idea.

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