Tag Archives: Diagramming

“It Was a Picture of Language”

Everyone has something that moves them.  Language moves me.  In a book about diagramming sentences entitled Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, author Kitty Burns Florey puts into words my precise sentiments:

And then, in her firm and saintly script, she put words on the line, a noun and a verb—probably something like dog barked. Between the words she drew a short vertical slash, bisecting the line.  Then she drew a road—a short country lane—that forked off at an angle under the word dog, and on it she wrote The.  That was it: subject, predicate, and the little modifying article that civilized the sentence—all of it made into a picture that was every bit as clear and informative as an actual portrait of a beagle in mid-woof.  The thrilling part was that this was a picture not of the animal but of the words that stood for the animal and its noises.  It was a representation of something that was both concrete (we could hear the words if we said them aloud, and they conveyed an actual event) and abstract (the words were invisible, and their sounds vanished from the air as soon as they were uttered).  The diagram was the bridge between a dog and the description of a dog.  It was a bit like art, a bit like mathematics.  It was much more than words uttered, or words written on a piece of paper: it was a picture of language.

“It was a picture of language.”  I read that and was immediately inspired.  To be able to take the way we communicate to each other and draw it out in a way that is so precise, so clear, is something I find incredible and brilliant.

As you may have read, I am a junior at St. Edward’s University, majoring in English writing and rhetoric and specializing in professional writing.  Originally, I was specializing in rhetoric and composition because I had my heart set on being an English rhetoric professor; however, after taking several writing and journalism classes, I have found that I really enjoy writing. I am not tossing the idea of teaching—I am very passionate about rhetoric and would be honored to teach it one day—but I am passionate equally as passionate about writing and editing.  I suppose we’ll see where that takes me.

 

With this blog, I hope to accomplish several things.  Above all, I want to create a platform with which I can reach out to others who love, are inquiring about, or want to discuss writing, editing, rhetoric, journalism, or anything else within that realm.  I want to improve upon my own writing—which I hope those reading will vigorously critique and proofread—so that I can, too, accomplish my dream of writing for an established newspaper or publish my own book.  I will hone my writing skills by writing reviews (of both the long and short variety), opinion columns, and other editorial-like pieces.  I hope that when I write a post about how ridiculous it is not to use a terminating comma in AP style, you will argue with me.  I pray that when I write a review of a restaurant, you will dine there and make your own decision.  I don’t want this blog to be a reader-writer experience; I want this to be a discussion, a reference, a forum for talk about language and communication.

 

Writing and editing is my passion. This field is something that has always inspired me, and I will continue to pursue it.

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Homework before First Official Post

I plan to write my first post on my love of grammar–I assure you that it will be far more interesting than it probably sounds to those who may not share this passion.

If you haven’t already (my guess is 98% of those reading are in that “haven’t” category), I urge you to check out Kitty Burns Florey’s fantastic book, Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences. It’s a fabulous book, and it is precisely the book that my English professor recommended to me to turn me on to diagramming. It certainly did the trick.

If you’re itching to know more about the book or the author, Kitty Burns Florey, come back tomorrow for my run down on the grandeur that is this book.

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Filed under Amazon, Books, Diagramming, English, Grammar, Kitty Burns Florey