Sunday, November 30, 2008

My 300-Posts Review

I thought I should recognize my 300th post (since I completely missed number 250) by talking about what has been successful and interesting about the blog, from my point of view. I'm going to do one of those self-congratulatory posts, in other words, so if you don't want to find out my most humorous or curious recent search term or the posts that bring the most people here, you might want to skip this one. If you're one of those curious and easily amused people, however, as I am, you might find this mildly entertaining.

My post about when and where to use commas in dates reigns as far and away the most-visited post I've made to date. In fact, using commas in general has been a huge area for exploration. Punctuation creates a lot of confusion, and I'm glad to see that people look for answers rather than just “winging it”.

It seems that Americans are searching for ways to describe their Thanksgiving holiday, as I had a few versions of “Thanksgiving adjectives” pop up in recent search engine activity. I don't know if schools assigned papers and One Step Forward offers more entertainment than a thesaurus, but apparently there was some sort of draw here. I can't imagine what help they found, but I hope that something useful matched their collective query. The reason was Thanksgiving, 2007's post about adjectives in general.

More strange than that were the two people who arrived here in search of “pump your brain” information or tips. I've written more than once that writing exercises help you do just that, and that post pops up at number five for the phrase on Google, but I still don't know for what those searchers were looking. I must admit that there were search terms on topics I've not yet addressed, but I'll certainly use them for future inspiration. Thank you all for your interest and feedback. I'll “see” you in December!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Punny Business: I Couldn't Resist

Normally, I write my own material, but I couldn't resist posting this groaner list of puns.

  1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.
    He acquired his size from too much pi.
  2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.
  3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
  4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.
  5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.
  6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
  7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
  8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
  9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
  10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
  11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.
  12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, "You stay here, I'll go on a head."
  14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center read, "Keep off the Grass".
  16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, "No change yet."
  17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
  18. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it.
  19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
  20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
  21. A backward poet writes inverse.
  22. In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.
  23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
  24. Don't join dangerous cults: practice safe sects!
A Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans among you, my readers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bad English Grammar from around the World

Some days, I get so interested in reading the rants of others that I forget to write my own. Today is one of those days. I'd like to share some of those rants with you, both because they relate to grammar and because I like to demonstrate that I'm not the only one who has strong feelings about the English language. If you've got a rant of your own, or a favorite post that relates, please add a comment with the link.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Help with Diagramming Sentences

I've long harbored the idea of including complicated sentence diagrams on One Step Forward, but I've come to accept that I have neither the space nor the graphics skills to make them worth our collective while. I firmly believe that diagramming sentences gives people insight into how language fits together and helps them learn to identify various parts of speech. Then again, I could simply by trying to rationalize my inordinate fascination with the practice.

Whatever the case, I'd like to draw your attention to several sites that focus on diagramming sentences. While you may have as much difficulty as I do diagramming them on the computer, doing so with pencil and paper--especially when you use a different color pencil for each part of speech--forces you to focus on how the words in any sentence relate to each other. You find yourself considering the function of each piece of a sentence, and once you see that function you can better decide whether you truly need that piece of the puzzle or it simply wastes words and dilutes your point.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Toney Topic for Today

I've always found the adjective "toney" to be a mite pretentious, which fits my plebeian lifestyle. I never gave it much thought, however, until I recently read a sentence regarding a "tony" club. Being me, I got to thinking about the word itself.

Toney, or the more-common tony, simply describes something as having "tone". The tone indicated thus has nothing to do with music but with social standing. It implies an upper-crust flavor or a sense of "quality" in an aristocratic sense.

Tony has rather fallen out of favor as an adjective, so its use caught my attention. It gives a rather British air to the thing being described, at least in my perception, perhaps because the arguably-aristocratic American families tend to behave so badly, whether they are Kennedys, Hiltons, or Trumps.

In considering the word toney, I tried to recall when last I'd heard it used. I suspect that it came in an older British novel, perhaps from Agatha Christie although her stories generally did not involve such upper-crust locales. Perhaps it was in Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. If you've seen someone or something described as tony, please let me know. I would be interested to know if I'm simply not reading toney publications or if there really are fewer things deserving such an adjective.