Mama Was an English Teacher

Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is a lazy post.

I saw this a few minutes ago:

He quotes Bill Nye; my favorite part is this:  ”We need scientifically literate voters and tax payers for the future….”

Does Nye think that Creationists don’t pay taxes, or something?

Mama said there’d be days like this…. so she taught me to diagram sentences! Really! I don’t know about you, but when I was in school they didn’t teach this any more, but my mother made sure that I learned. She promised me that one day, I’d be thankful. Today is that day!

A diagram of the sentence, "We need scientifically literate voters and tax payers in the future."

Me, I’d be happy just to stop at step three with literate voters and taxpayers.

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10 comments
  1. I’ve never seen diagramming sentences before! Apart from looking truly awesome, what does it tell you about the sentence?

    • fojap said:

      It helps you break down the sentence into the different parts of grammar. It’s rarely useful, but occasionally in complex sentences it can help. In this case, it shows that “literate” is modifying both “voters and taxpayers”, not just “voters.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_diagram

      • Thanks for that! And thanks for the link. Think I’ll learn how to do it myself.

  2. It’s a bit like a tree diagram.

    Anyway, I’m not sure they need to be literate though. My Spanish neighbour can’t read or write, but she has a razor sharp mind. She watches television, her husband reads the newspaper to her, she has an active family life and knows what is going on in the world. Oh, she’s in her mid 80s. Demanding any type of voter is very discriminatory. Nor do you need to be scientifically literate (whatever that means) to have a brain and earn money and therefore pay taxes.

    • fojap said:

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Indeed, they can also be drawn as a tree diagram and linguists, as opposed to English teachers, often draw them that way.

      If I wasn’t being lazy, I could have included some context. Bill Nye (the Science Guy) debated Ken Hamm on the subject of creationism. I didn’t watch it, but someone complained about this sentence. I was just joking when I said that I would just be happy if people were literate because I felt that the person who pulled out that quote was intentionally misreading it. My ex-husband was a French Canadian and I spent about four years living in a place where the dominant language was not my first language, and I did have people underestimate my intelligence because of my lack of proficiency in French. It was very painful, and I really, really don’t mean to imply that people who don’t speak English do not have valuable opinions.

      Thanks for pointing out that detail and giving me the opportunity to clarify. I very much like to be supportive of non-English speakers in the U.S., and people who don’t speak the dominant language in other countries as well.

      • Sorry, I didn’t mean to be critical of your post, I thought it was interesting. I thought Bill Nye was the British actor, actually Bill Nighy but pronounced Nye, when I first read the post. Never heard of either Nye or Hamm, but there again I don’t watch television or live in America. It was his comment I was criticising in essence.

        I forgot you don’t know my blog. I live in Spain, which is why I have a Spanish neighbour (well, lots of them obviously), and also in Gibraltar, not far from Pink (which is how I found your blog after his abortion post). In both cases I’m in the linguistic minority. Less so in Gib, where the official language is English, but Gibraltarians speak llanito which is mix of Andalucían Spanish and other languages, eg English, Maltese, Italian, Jewish. Similar to the French parts of Canada, as Gibbos are bilingual. Luckily after some years in Spain my Spanish is good enough. I’ll never be fluently bi-lingual but I can read, write and speak Spanish and the only people who don’t understand me are the ones who choose not to. Voting in Spain is pretty restricted for foreigners. No national elections and you *should* be able to vote in local ones, but I’ve heard plenty of stories of non-Spanish nationals being turned away, even when they are on the register. More than you needed to know!

      • fojap said:

        No, I really did appreciate your comment. It was something of an oversight for me. I know that I have a lot of readers from elsewhere and I typically try to fill in details. I was being very lazy with this one.

        “I’ll never be fluently bi-lingual but I can read, write and speak Spanish and the only people who don’t understand me are the ones who choose not to.”

        I know exactly what you mean by this. I used to describe my French as “not quite fluent.” Now it’s just plain rusty. I can still have a one on one conversation on just about any subject for almost any length of time provided the other person wants to have that conversation.

        At the risk of being pedantic, French Canadians aren’t necessarily bilingual, and they really don’t like being expected to be. They all take English in school, just as all the Anglophones take French, and a great many of them do speak English very well, but the “French Canadians are bilingual” statement really gets people irritated. (This is especially true in the province of Quebec. On the other hand I’ve heard people from New Brunswick brag about how many people there are bilingual.) Francophones are a majority in Quebec and you absolutely can’t get by in most parts of the province without at least a workable knowledge of French. I lived in Quebec City, not Montreal. There weren’t that many Anglophones around.

  3. Hey we are all lazy sometimes. I try and balance not repeating previous news/background for regular readers with trying to provide a summary for any new readers. Not dissimilar.

    My French is probably rustier. Last time I went to France, I opened my mouth and Spanish popped out. That’s one reason I followed your photogblog, in a vague attempt to revive it, so you had better make sure it is accurate!

    I didn’t realise they aren’t bilingual. That is interesting. People here are. So if you are English speaking and you try and speak in Spanish, Gibbos will walk all over you. People say it is very difficult to learn Spanish in Gib because of their fluency in both. Gibbos grow up speaking both languages, school is taught in English (but the playground is often Spanish/llanito) and I assume they take Spanish at school, although I know ones who don’t read or write it, so maybe it is optional.

    yeah, I figured it was Quebec.

  4. I like your lazy post. I never saw a sentence diagram before, maybe I had lazy teachers

    • fojap said:

      I think it’s a generational thing. They stopped doing it before I was in school, but my mother taught me because she learned it in school

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