From NY Times: Are schools undervaluing grammar, given that employers may rule out applicants with sloppy writing? Or are these employers being old-fashioned and missing out on some qualified candidates?
From Verlyn Klinkenborg in NY Times: Before you learn to write well, to trust yourself as a writer, you will have to learn to be patient in the presence of your own thoughts. You’ll learn that making sentences in your head will elicit thoughts you didn’t know you could have. Thinking patiently will yield far better sentences than you thought you could make.
From University of Texas: With its sprawling pastures, gleaming skylines and rugged hills, the Lone Star State looms large in American culture. Just the word Texas evokes images of rootin’ tootin’ cowboys in 10-gallon hats shouting “howdy y’all!” Venture into a honky tonk or a rural Texas town, and you’re likely to find more slow-talking cowpokes than you can shake a stick at. Yet researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found Texanisms like “might could” and “down yonder” are dissipating, especially among young city slickers.
From Ben Yagoda in NY Times: Is it safe to talk about punctuation again? Eight years ago, Lynne Truss’s best-selling “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” took, in the words of her subtitle, a “Zero Tolerance Approach” to the subject. Although Truss’s focus on errors drew the ire, if not the fire, of grammarians, linguists and other “descriptivists,” her book was, for the most part, harmless and legitimate. Still, it overlooked a lot. Maybe more than any other element of writing, punctuation combines rules with issues of sound, preference and personal style. And as Truss didn’t adequately acknowledge, even the rules change over time. The two big players in the field are the period and the comma. I’ll start with the latter because the protocol for comma use is so complicated and contingent.
From Hubspot: Calls-to actions are extremely critical components of effective lead generation, and the language you use in your calls-to-action is probably the most important element you can optimize to improve their click-through rates. Crafting the message, however, can be time-consuming and challenging. So let's review some best practices for writing a compelling call-to-action across different places on your website and various stages of your sales cycle!
From Farhad Manjoo at Slate: Who says two spaces is wrong? Typographers, that's who. The people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences. That convention was not arrived at casually. James Felici, author of the The Complete Manual of Typography, points out that the early history of type is one of inconsistent spacing.
From Jon Gingerich at Lit Reactor: As someone who slings red ink for a living, let me tell you: grammar is an ultra-micro component in the larger picture; it lies somewhere in the final steps of the editing trail; and as such it’s an overrated quasi-irrelevancy in the creative process, perpetuated into importance primarily by bitter nerds who accumulate tweed jackets and crippling inferiority complexes. But experience has also taught me that readers, for better or worse, will approach your work with a jaundiced eye and an itch to judge. While your grammar shouldn’t be a reflection of your creative powers or writing abilities, let’s face it — it usually is.
From Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin: A small but significant portion of the David Foster Wallace archive represents his teaching career, from his graduate school years through to his work as a faculty member at Pomona College in the years before his death. Wallace not only had high expectations for his students, but took his own role as a teacher very seriously. Syllabi, paper topic handouts, quizzes, vocabulary lists, heavily annotated teaching texts, and other documents dating from the late 1980s to 2008 are represented in the collection. Shown here are assignments and books representing various periods in his teaching career.