09 June 2010

Wednesday Etiquette

Today’s Wednesday Etiquette finds us minding our "P's" and "Q's" quite literally as we are looking at grammar as a form of etiquette. We are featuring the charming and unique book, Language Etiquette. Written in 1949, Language Etiquette takes those tried and true adages that make polite society and applies them to our grammar. In a whimsical take on the subject, our lessons are taught in verse. Frankly, it is quite hard to find a book that combines grammar, etiquette and poetry.

J. Martyn and Anna Kathleen Walsh were both high school English teachers. (Well, that should tell you something right there.) They were in charge of both the grammar lessons and the poetry. The quaint and engaging drawings were done by Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge and frankly without the drawings, the book would lose most of its charm.

Confused? Well one really has to experience it fully to truly grasp the power of the poetry.

A hat, you’re told, may introduce
You as a siren or a saint;
But there’s no hat that can reduce
The slouchiness of vulgar ain’t.
Though there’s no one who dares dispute
Illusions of a stylish “lid,”
No hat’s so “darling” or so “cute”
As to camouflage a drab has did.

You say that grammar’s silly stuff
Designed to worry kids in school;
You boast that you speak good enough
And never bother with the rule.
You free your ignorance from blame,
Yet as you blunder lay for lie,
With those who hear you rate the same
As if with knife you ate your pie.

Though you may have “just scads of dough”
And know the art of swanky gear,
All tricks to make the outside glow –
You’ll “flop” if you insult the ear.
You lose prestige in one has did
To put at naught your outward sheen;
You rate a slough with one had did,
A lout, with “them’s the ones we seen.”

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