Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wouldn't you just know it?

In yesterday's post I berated some of my fellow graduate students for beginning sentences with the words "and" or "but." I felt pretty secure in this since I've been taught in virtually every english class I've ever taken that this is not done and, outside of dialogue, I rarely see it in print. Much to my surprise, however, it turns out that I am incorrect* about it being ungrammatical. A helpful commenter was nice enough to quote from the Chicago Manual of Style as follows:

Beginning a sentence with a conjunction. There is a widespread belief—one with no historical or grammatical foundation—that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but, or so. In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. It has been so for centuries, and even the most conservative grammarians have followed this practice. Charles Allen Lloyd’s 1938 words fairly sum up the situation as it stands even today: “Next to the groundless notion that it is incorrect to end an English sentence with a preposition, perhaps the most wide-spread of the many false beliefs about the use of our language is the equally groundless notion that it is incorrect to begin one with ‘but’ or ‘and.’ As in the case of the superstition about the prepositional ending, no textbook supports it, but apparently about half of our teachers of English go out of their way to handicap their pupils by inculcating it. One cannot help wondering whether those who teach such a monstrous doctrine ever read any English themselves.”

A relatively brief search on the internet turns up quite a bit of consensus on this point. So, all in all, it appears that I stand corrected. Never let it be said that I can't admit it publicly when I've been a dumbass.

When and if you get finished laughing at me, you may also find this to be rather interesting. A regular reader who happens to write for a much more respectable blog than this one** recently turned me on to these lists of the top 20 presidential nominees each from the Republicans and the Democrats. There are some relatively realistic suggestions for each:




Pro: Unifying force after 9/11; articulate speaker.

Con: The whole "pro-choice, pro-gun-control, New Yorker, used to live with gay dudes, adultery" thing might hurt him with conservatives. A bit.



Pro: Comforting resemblance to character actor Gavin MacLeod.

Con: Murray from The Mary Tyler Moore Show lacked leadership qualities and Captain Stubing from Love Boat got a little goofy whenever Charo was a guest star, leaving executive branch vulnerable to Charo impersonators who are actually Al Qaeda operatives.




Pro: Known commodity; strong fundraiser.

Con: Polarizing; unlikely to woo those already opposed to her.



Pro: Articulate; resembles foxy actor Blair Underwood.

Con: L.A. Law was kind of overrated now that you think about it.

And there are some less-than-realistic, though amusing, suggestions for each:




Pro: Programmed mandate to destroy enemies with unrelenting deadly force could be an advantage in contentious general-election fight and when facing down hostile nations or other bees.

Con: Murderous instinct less advantageous in delicate diplomatic negotiations and the parsing of complex tariff issues.



Pro: Could win support of other women.

Con: Women are not allowed to join the Republican Party.




Pro: Size; power; ability to emit short-range optic blasts.

Con: Potential attack ad: "Sometimes Optimus Prime is a robot, other times a truck. Which is it, Mr. Prime? America deserves a leader that doesn't transform whenever it's convenient."



Pro: Could draw some initial interest from the Christian right until they research his actual positions in a deeper way; likable; strong leadership qualities.

Con: Unkempt; pretty far left; messianic complex.

So, head on over and check out the rest of the list. It's amusing, it's entertaining, and it will remind you of just what a shambles our democracy is actually in.

* To be frank I find it remarkable that I don't get corrected like this more often. Either I'm correct vastly more often than I think is healthy, or y'all really aren't paying that much attention. Personally, I prefer to assume that the latter is the case.

** I find it amusing that the authors of such high-class blogs sometimes provide me with crass YouTube videos or joke sites as though begging me to post them. I am, of course, happy to do so as I have little, if any, dignity. Nevertheless, I know your secret fellow bloggers: you're just as immature as I am. Ha-HA!

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Blogger TDEC said...

If it's any comfort, I was taught this exact same thing (not to start sentences with and or but) in my college class in English proficiency. Pedants will hold out against the facts for centuries, and this misconception has been around at least since the late 1800's. If you ever want sensible, non-pompous grammar tips, check out the podcast.

Thursday, May 03, 2007 10:59:00 AM  

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