NPR profile (was something else)

Matthew Gordon gordonmj at MISSOURI.EDU
Tue Dec 5 18:37:20 UTC 2006

Actually the piece I heard was pretty fair. The author of the book, Kitty
Burns Florey, explicitly notes the uselessness of diagramming sentences for
improving writing and even for teaching basic grammar. She suggests the
value of sentence diagramming is as a reinforcement of material learned by
other means.

You can listen to the story here:

On 12/5/06 11:59 AM, "Beverly Flanigan" <flanigan at OHIO.EDU> wrote:

> But of course you CAN diagram any sentence of any language--we do it all
> the time!  The myth about diagramming making one a "better" or "more
> correct" writer would be typical of Vocabula Review, and it was expressed
> by the woman on NPR too (on one of the morning shows that Monday--Morning
> Edition, I suppose?).  But these are the people who assume that "real"
> sentences are ungrammatical--another myth, of course.  And what would that
> "second set of rules" be--unless (hopefully) just a reminder that Standard
> Written English is often stylistically different from (though no better
> than) ordinary spoken English?  This is akin to saying there's only one
> "real" way of pronouncing English!
> At 11:32 AM 12/5/2006, you wrote:
>> A while back Harper's reprinted "Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog"
>> from the Vocabula Review, which was a memoir about diagramming in
>> school. It was a good read: the author was nostalgic, but pointed out
>> that it didn't make her a better writer though a more "correct"
>> writer. She also pointed out that you can't diagram real ("in
>> situ"/"in vivo") sentences: they have to be made up ("in vitro") for
>> the purpose in order to work well. And it forces the students to
>> learn a second set of rules. I made my freshmen read it. Some of them
>> had done some diagramming in school and had found it useful as they
>> are visual learners.
>> I'll have to go and look for that story on NPR, Bev. Thanks for
>> pointing it out. Do you remember which program it was on?
>> ---Amy West
>>> Date:    Mon, 4 Dec 2006 00:12:18 -0500
>>> From:    Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at OHIO.EDU>
>>> Subject: Re: Overheard on the local FOX news:
>>> And overheard today on our favorite prescriptive network, NPR:  A woman has
>>> written a book on the value of diagramming sentences in school--the old
>>> way, of course, horizontally, with angled lines shooting off
>>> everywhere.  Why valuable?  Because it might teach students to write
>>> "accurately," instead of merely "expressing their feelings."  Why there is
>>> an assumed dichotomy between these two is beyond me.  But no doubt this is
>>> why Faulkner is almost "impossible" to diagram.  And of course Scott Simon
>>> (who followed  with something like "with whom we deal with") just thought
>>> she was marvelous. Sigh.
>>> At 10:06 PM 12/3/2006, you wrote:
>>>> Something about someone suggesting a "_rehaul_ of U.S. forces in Iraq."
>>>> --
>>>> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
>>>> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>>>> -----
>>>> -Sam Clemens
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> The American Dialect Society -
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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